The Dressmaker

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Dressmaker Movie Poster Image
Irreverent dramedy about revenge deals with abuse.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 118 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's more than OK to defend your good name, especially when it hasn't been tarnished not through your own mistakes but through others' desire to hurt you. Perseverance is a theme.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tilly may be down, but she's never out; despite the slings and arrows aimed her way, she manages to find a way to stay true to herself and still care for her mother, who sometimes acts like she doesn't appreciate her.

Violence

A boy is shown with what appears to be a fatal cut on his head. Townspeople openly jeer at Tilly and her mother, to the point of bullying. A man renders his wife unconscious with a "tonic" so he can have sex with her. Kids are shown bullying a young girl to tears. A few characters die, sometimes through gruesome means (not always shown, but discussed). A woman stabs her husband and later, off camera, kills him. Another woman sets fire to her home.

Sex

Couples kiss. In one scene, a married man is shown about to have sex with a woman who's not his wife; he undresses, but viewers don't see him naked. In another scene, a man strips down to his skivvies and flirts with a woman while standing there half-naked. 

Language

Relatively infrequent use of words including "bastard," "s--t," and "f--k."

Consumerism

Singer sewing machine.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of smoking and drinking (sometimes to excess). One character gets hooked on hashish-spiked candy. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Dressmaker is an eccentric, appealing dramedy that's best for older teens and adults, thanks to fairly intense material about murder, mental illness, and bullying. There's also plenty of smoking and drinking, some kissing and sexual situations (though no nudity), and swearing (including "f--k"). Some upsetting/violent scenes are shown or discussed, and in one scene a man drugs his bereaved wife so he can have sex with her. Still, the main character demonstrates perseverance against the odds.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byjackjess April 14, 2017

Gorgeous costumes

There's so much loss in this movie, and almost all of it centers around the main character. But the dresses she makes are a joy to behold. She is a stron... Continue reading
Adult Written byThePorgsHaveCome December 16, 2017

Australian and not a fan.

I like seeing and hearing Australian accents, actors and locations in a film, but this sort of humour really puts me off. A few parts I did laugh, but the rest... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byfleur26 February 7, 2017

Great Movie, Not For Younger Kids

My family really enjoyed The Dressmaker. There were quite a few iffy scenes, and heavy topics including death, abuse, and bullying. Most of the characters were... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byAkasha April 7, 2018

It Could Have Been Better

The movie had lots of twists but the ending piece was disappointing. It was romantic, violent, romantic & odd.

What's the story?

Apparently, you can go home again. That is, you can if you're Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet), aka THE DRESSMAKER. Her mother, Molly (Judy Davis), barely remembers her, and the entire town of Dungatar, Australia, appears to hate her. Tilly thinks she's cursed: Shipped off as a child when she was found standing next to a dead schoolmate, she suffers from feelings of guilt over a murder she doesn't remember committing. Her goal is to piece together the fragments of her memories in a town that has never been very kind to her or her mother. And she wants to find out once and for all if she truly is responsible for the terrible crime that people say she committed. Liam Hensworth co-stars as a young man who sees beyond Tilly's reputation. 

Is it any good?

Revenge is a dish best served fashionably attired and ready to pounce in this wacky, sometimes cynical, and often winning examination of forgiveness, revenge, and everything in between. It's also a treat, simply because it takes you to unexpected places in unexpected ways. There's nothing that you could call boring in The Dressmaker. Its bold disregard for the cliched rules of Hollywood storytelling keeps the film energetic, if a little too expansive sometimes. In short, The Dressmaker -- if you'll pardon the pun -- is a near-perfect fit.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different kinds of abuse portrayed in The Dressmaker, from childhood bullying to sexual assault within a marriage. How does it deal with these hot-button topics?

  • How does the film depict small-town living? Do you think it's accurate?

  • What role do drinking and smoking play in the story? Are they glamorized?

  • How do the residents of Dungatar treat Tilly when she returns? Are they being cruel, or are their reactions justified? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love offbeat movies

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate