This post includes a brief plot summary and an explanation about the ending of the film The Dressmaker (2015). What happened to Teddy? Beware of spoilers.
Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, the 2015 revenge comedy-drama stars Kate Winslet as Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage. The film is based on a novel of the same name written by Rosalie Ham. Today’s post is solely based on the film, not the novel.
The Dressmaker (2015) – Plot Summary
An accomplished dressmaker who goes by the name Tilly returns to her home town, a small town named Dungatar. The local sergeant Horatio Farrah sent Myrtle away when she was only ten. Tilly’s fellow classmate Stewart Pettyman died from a broken neck and the whole town blamed her for the incident.
Despite of the circumstances, Tilly doesn’t have any recollection of Stewart’s death. She asks her mentally unstable mother “Molly” to help but she can’t either.
Tilly agrees to make a dress for Gertrude Pratt in exchange for the truth behind Stewart’s death. During the day of the incident, Stewart was looking for Tilly to bully her. However, Tilly was able to hide from him. Getrude was the one who gave her location away, but claims that it was in self-defence.
At the local dance party, Gertrude captures everybody’s attention, including the eyes of William Beaumont (her crush). She asks him for a dance, and later they become engaged. Awed by Gertrude’s transformation, the whole town starts asking dresses from Tilly. Meanwhile, Teddy asks Tilly out.
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The Dressmaker (Novel)
Farrah confesses the reason why he exiled Tilly. Stewart’s father Evan Pettyman threatened to expose Farrah as a cross-dresser if he didn’t send Tilly away. Meanwhile, Evan hires Una Pleasance, another dressmaker to end Tilly’s business. His plan fails, when Gertrude rehires Tilly to make her wedding dress.
Tilly bribes Farrah in order to gain access to the witness report on Stewart’s death. Beulah (her former teacher) accused Tilly of breaking Stewart’s neck. However, she wasn’t there when the incident happened. This prompts Tilly to rush to Gertrude’s wedding and confront Farrah. He remains convinced that Tilly killed Stewart because everybody else had an alibi. In addition, he also reveals that Evan is Tilly’s biological father. After hearing this, Tilly leaves and runs away.
Barney (Teddy’s disabled brother) hysterically shouts that “Tilly moved”. Teddy finds Tilly and explains to her that she didn’t kill Stewart. On the day of the incident, Stewart corned Tilly into a wall and told her not to move. His plan was to run as fast as he could and hit her in her stomach with his head. But, she moved, which lead Stewart to hit his head into the hard brick wall behind Tilly. The impact led him to break his neck, causing him to die.
Teddy and Tilly spend the night together at his caravan. She talks about her curse and Teddy takes her to the top of a silo. He wants to challenge the curse. Therefore, he jumps into the silo to prove that Tilly’s curse is not real, but he never makes it back to the top.
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The Dressmaker [DVD] (2015)
Molly reveals to Tilly that Evan knew about her and that he sent her away out of spite. Meanwhile, Molly suffers a stroke and dies. Farrah and Tilly drink heavily at Molly’s house, while Beulah snoops around the porch. Unaware of Beulah’s presence, Tilly throws a record player outside the house that ends up hitting Beulah’s head. The next day, she hops on a train to Melbourne thinking she’s heading to get treatment, but in reality, she’s going to placed in an asylum.
The next on Tilly’s revenge list is Percival Almanac, a hunchback chemist that treated Tilly and Molly poorly when they were younger. Unable to stop himself, he walks towards his backyard pond and drowns. The police finds the hash browns baked by Tilly’s late mother, but Farrah takes the blame to prevent Tilly from going to jail.
Tilly visits Marygold and tells her the truth about Evan. Upset, Marygold cuts Evan’s Achilles tendons and leaves him to bleed to death. Meanwhile, the townspeople leave Dungatar to attend a competition. Soon, they realized that Tilly was the one who made Winyerp’s costumes. Alone at Dungatar, she executes the last part of her revenge plan. Tilly rolls a red fabric from her house to centre of town and sets it on fire, burning everything in Dungatar. Then, she leaves by train.
The Dressmaker (2015) – Ending Explained
The ending of The Dressmaker is riveting and very satisfying to watch. However, let’s talk about Teddy’s death first.
What Happened To Teddy? How Did Teddy Die?
For those who didn’t get why Teddy died, he jumped into a silo full of sorghum. Apparently, wheat is safe but sorghum is dangerous. The first time, Teddy jumped into the silo, it was full of wheat. However, the second time, the silo was full of sorghum. Teddy sank into the grain, which caused him to asphyxiate to death.
Tilly “Myrtle” Dunnage And Her Revenge Plan
Did Tilly overreact? Did she have to burn the town? Leaving Dungatar, would be enough to get away from the toxicity. But burning it, makes a way more powerful statement. In addition, those people were already rotten anyway. Having said that, building a new town might give them some time to reflect upon what they did. In the end, everyone was accountable for what happened on that fateful day.
Gertrude. For telling Stewart where Myrtle was hiding in order to save herself. However, that’s not the worst thing that she ever did. One can forgive for what she did back then, because she was just a child. Throughout the story, Gertrude reveals herself as very selfish person. She never got Tilly’s back, not once. That’s quite ungrateful, considering the fact that Tilly is the reason why William married her. Tilly made the dress that made him fall in love and she was the one who made the dress that let her shine on her wedding day.
Beulah. For being negligent, biased and a liar. She failed to see that Stewart was constantly bullying Myrtle because he was her favourite. Having said that, if she was that biased, she had no business in being a schoolteacher. Moreover, she had no business lying in that witness report. She’s a bitter woman, that needs to get a life.
Percival Almanac is also a disgusting human being, in the form of a seemly innocuous hunchback. He was a wife beater and he had no right to bad mouth Myrtle’s mother in front of her. Once again, he shows his ugly side, when Molly suffers a stroke. He refused to help her.
Evan Pettyman is perhaps one the biggest villains in this story. First, he’s a rapist. He drugs Marygold on a constant basis and forces himself on her when she’s unconscious. Second, he’s a terrible father. He created that little brat named Stewart with Marygold and then, he abandons a pregnant woman (Molly) and bad mouths her. Not to mention, that he also sends Myrtle away just to hurt Molly.
Stewart Pettyman killed himself. When you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes. That’s what happened to Stewart that day. He wanted to hurt Myrtle really bad, but he’s the one that ends up dying. In addition, that boy was already trouble at a young age. How dare he threaten Myrtle like that? Saying that he was going to kill Molly? Myrtle’s mother would probably finish him first.
The Dressmaker is a delightful revenge tale: it has mystery, drama and comedy, all mixed in together. The only thing that bothered me, was Teddy’s death. He and Tilly deserved a better ending. Nonetheless, if Teddy didn’t die, Tilly wouldn’t be so angry at the townspeople. They made her believe that she was cursed. He jumped into that silo to prove her that she could love him. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to prove her wrong.
By the way, Kate Winslet’s performance in The Dressmaker is more than amazing, she’s totally believable and mesmerizing as Tilly. Some of the other casting choices were questionable: namely Liam Hemsworth (Teddy) and Sarah Snook (Gertrude). They are supposed to be around the same age as Tilly, but Kate Winslet is obviously older than them. Age differences aside, both actors gave very solid performances.
Overall, The Dressmaker is an amazing film about pettiness, small-minded people and the importance of staying true to yourself. In the beginning, Tilly was still seeking for everyone’s approval. She might not want to admit it, but she was making all those beautiful dresses with an unconscious desire to gain the townspeople’s sympathy. In the end, it turned out to be hopeless because those people were just despicable.