The Dressmaker: In 1926 in the Australian outback town of Dungatar, schoolboy Stewart Pettyman dies in unknown circumstances. The only witness to his death, schoolgirl Myrtle Dunnage, is branded a murderer and exiled from the town by Stewart’s father and town councillor, Evan Pettyman (Shane Bourne). 25 years later, Myrtle, now an accomplished dressmaker and going by the name Tilly (Kate Winslet), returns to her hometown to take care of her ill mother Molly (Judy Davis). Upon arrival, she is greeted by local police sergeant Horatio Farrat (Hugo Weaving), who is secretly a cross-dresser. Tilly returns home to find the house squalid and her mother plainly mentally ill which has earned Tilley’s mother the nickname “Mad Molly” throughout town. Unable to remember the events of 1926, Tilly asks her mother about Stewart Pettyman’s death, as she believes that day left her cursed. Molly claims to know nothing about the incident.
The entire town is quickly alerted to Tilly’s return, as well as that of William Beaumont (James Mackay), son of the wealthy and snobbish Elsbeth Beaumont (Caroline Goodall). Gertrude Pratt (Sarah Snook), the daughter of the owners of the town’s general store, possesses feelings for William, but lacks the confidence to tell him.