In front of the camera, Australian cinema has never been healthier. Veterans are enjoying a renaissance and the current generation are landing big roles in franchises and big-budget blockbusters.
But behind it, this land of Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Eric Bana, Guy Pearce, Naomi Watts, Sam Worthington, Russell Crowe and more, is just coming round from an identity crisis. “As a whole, our country is doing the same thing,” director Jocelyn Moorhouse tells us ahead of the UAE release of her acclaimed film The Dressmaker. “We’re still not quite sure where we stand, and I think that can be seen in our storytelling.”
Aside from the lead, played by the indomitable Kate Winslet, The Dressmaker is a flagbearer for Down Under, featuring three of its star names at varying stages of their career. Veteran Hugo Weaving – a long-time friend of the director – is joined by Liam Hemsworth and the up-and-coming Sarah Snook.
“I absolutely wanted to shine a light the country and the talent,” says Moorhouse, who after an indifferent decade or so in Los Angeles returned to her homeland before production began. “I love the mythical nature of Australia and the stories that can be uncovered here. Rosalie Ham’s book is one.”
The Dressmaker is set in the small town rural of Dungatar. The big town/little town axis is the common theme, a metaphor no-doubt for Australia’s standing in the movie-making world. The ethereal Winslet – playing ostracised Tilly, recently returned from Paris – often appears in a grander light than her co-stars who have stayed rooted to the dusty, wheat-yellow land. The insinuation that “looking fabulous darling” is the be-all and end-all is swatted away by real-life emotions. It’s a healthy outlook to have.
Out in cinemas across Dubai from Thursday March 17.
Three more Aussie films
A cult classic responsible for launching the career of Toni Collette, who played the socially awkward Muriel in a comedy-drama directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse’s husband, PJ Hogan.
Retelling of one of the most terrifying chapters in Australian crime history, the brutal and tortuous murder of 11 people in the Adelaide suburbs.
The biographical tale of prodigious pianist David Helfgott and his battle with mental illness, for which Geoffrey Rush earned the Best Actor gong at the 1997 Oscars.