Tuesday, 23 February 2016

A Pinoy @ The Movies: The Dressmaker

When I was growing up, having a pair of pants made wasn't difficult. I remember there was an in-house seamstress in 'balay-dako' (big house), where I grew up. 'Iyay Loring', as she was called, was an old maid from a town in Iloilo Province whose main job was to sew and make dresses, night gowns or pajamas for everyone. Imagine bringing your piece of fabric to your seamstress without having to cross the street! She was just in the next room! 

And there was 'Tia Sitas'. Tia Sitas was also our go-to seamstress if Iyay Loring was too busy. As she lived on the other side of town, she would just come over to the house, get your measurements and later deliver your finished shirt, blouse, pants or dress, or whatever clothing you asked her to make for you. 

But later on, my father, brother and I depended on 'Marcial' and his assistants to do our shirts and pants.  Marcial's shop was just near the town's commercial center, and I remember my father driving me to his shop whenever I flew back home. During the years I worked in Manila, I'd visit Divisoria to buy some fabrics for Marcial to turn into pants for office wear. And years ago, Marcial, was killed in a horrible vehicular accident. God bless his soul. And his sewing machine!

So, when I saw the official trailer for The Dressmaker, I decided to watch it as a tribute to these three dressmakers who helped clothe me since I was a kid.

Kate Winslet, who I correctly predicted to win an Oscar for The Reader, is the dressmaker. When I saw the trailer, I immediately wanted to watch it because I knew I'd find it funny and good. And it was!

Set in a small town in Victoria, Australia, Kate's character went back home after having been forced to leave when she was young. As to the reason why, you have to watch it. Dungatar, the fictional town, is supposed to be an hour by train from Melbourne. I wonder if my train ever passed this town when I traveled to Ballarat in January 2007 upon the invitation of a good friend Taro, who lived there with his wife Cathy. 

Having trained in Paris, Milan and in Spain, she was armed with the haute couture the small town needed. The scenes where everyone was running about town wearing her creations were always funny. You would think that those glamourous dresses should be seen in the streets of New York or Paris, but here they were, being worn by women at the outback. Ha-ha-ha!

Liam Hemsworth, Katniss Everdeen's, boyfriend in Hunger Games, is a countryboy-slash-boyfriend of Kate Winslet in this movie. While Hugo Weaving, Neo's nemesis in The Matrix and the elf Elrond in Lord of the Rings, is the cross-dressing sergeant of the small town. 

The Dressmaker is not only a funny movie about love, haute couture and revenge, it's also a good way to remember our neighborhood dressmakers, whose work is usually forgotten in all the craving for expensive designer clothes these days. 

And if you're nice to your dressmaker, perhaps, she wouldn't have to burn your village down someday. Oops! 


  1. I encountered The Dressmaker from Book Depository. I was searching for a nice book to purchase and this title ended in their best sellers. Despite the great reviews, I skipped it for another title. Now I somehow regret it given your positive feedback about the movie. I'm sure, the story in print is more engaging.

    A little out of topic :-) I remember the Korean drama, Ok Jang Jung. The lead star (Kim Tae Hee), who plays the famous historical concubine (Hui-bin Jang), was a great dressmaker too.

    1. Yes, the book must have been very good because the director decided to make the movie because she found love, fashion and revenge in one book too good to pass up.

      Is that Kim Tae-Hee the actress whose acting only involves smiling and making her eyes big? :-)

    2. Hahahahaha I have to laugh at your description about Kim Tae Hee. Yes, she was the lead star at Ok Jang Jung.

      But you know what, I like her even though she is always criticised about her acting skills. Although, I find her very fitting for cheesy romantic comedies than hard core drama.