Interview with Jocelyn Moorhouse and Sue Maslin
In the opening moments of The Dressmaker well-travelled fashionista Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet) returns to her dusty outback home town of Dungatar, looking to settle a score with the entire population.
Accused of having killed a boy, she is determined to reclaim her name, breathe life back into her shrill mother (Judy Davis) and give the town the clean up it truly deserves.
The film marks the return to feature films of its director Jocelyn Moorhouse, who co-wrote the screenplay (based on the 2000 novel by Rosalie Ham) with her filmmaker husband PJ Hogan (Muriel’s Wedding; My Best Friend’s Wedding).
Having made her name with her extraordinary 1991 debut Proof, Moorhouse tried her fortunes in the United States where she made How to Make an American Quilt (1995) and A Thousand Acres (1997). Things didn’t quite work out, so she returned to Australia where, in 2005, she was given the weighty honour of directing the much-discussed Russell Crowe film Eucalyptus.
Dynamic Duo: The Dressmaker director Jocelyn Moorhouse (left) with producer Sue Maslin.
After generating much hype and excitement, the project quickly stalled and Moorhouse left. It remains on the shelf.
Though she kept working as a producer – she has produced most of Hogan’s films, including Peter Pan (2003), Unconditional Love (2002) and the 2012 Aussie comedy hit Mental – Moorhouse then gave priority to the care of her two autistic children.
The Dressmaker sees a remarkable return to form for Moorhouse, with its winning combination of brash style, bright colours, cheeky tone and dry humour.
Her producer Sue Maslin (Road to Nhill; Japanese Story) had nurtured the idea of developing The Dressmaker into a film ever since she read it, and believed the director of Proof was a perfect fit.
Here the pair discuss their working relationship, the film’s western influence and the issue of beauty versus vanity. They also speak about the boom year local films are enjoying, the fine art of poster art and valiantly defend the film’s totally gratuitous shot of a ripped Liam Hemsworth with his shirt off.
WATCH: Interview with Jocelyn Moorhouse & Sue Maslin
View the trailer for The Dressmaker