A Stitch in Time review – fashion-design empowerment yarn offers gentleness and dignity | Film

It’s never too late to follow a dream or for a second chance in life. That’s the message of this aggressively sentimental Australian drama about a woman in her 80s who walks out on her emotionally abusive partner and starts over as a fashion designer. It’s a movie with all its edges filed down and a soundtrack that doesn’t so much tug at the heartstrings as yank them. But 89-year-old actor Maggie Blinco gives a performance of such gentleness and dignity she pulls the quality up from its Hallmark level.

Blinco plays Liebe, who has spent the best part of 50 years living with failed rocker Duncan (a bit of a wooden performance from real-life musician Glenn Shorrock). Duncan is bitter and angry, and takes his resentment out on Liebe; she is a gentle, elegant woman who has held on to her curiosity about the world. Still, a lifetime of putdowns has chipped away at her self-confidence. Finally, enough is enough, and Liebe leaves him. I felt that the script hedges its bets a bit on the domestic abuse: Duncan is vile – belittling and criticising – but never does anything so terrible that it would prevent him from returning for a slushy ending.

In her youth, Liebe designed clothes. Now, free of Duncan, she starts making dresses again on her old Singer sewing machine, encouraged by a hip young fashion designer Hamish (Hoa Xuande). He sets her up with an online shop called Grandma Couture and – of course – Gen Zs go wild for her dresses. Liebe gets a room in a houseshare with some Chinese students, and everyone in her new world is perfectly lovely – there’s none of that invisibility of being an older woman. A completely unnecessary backstory about Liebe surviving the Holocaust only adds to the TV movie feel. Still, Blinco brings to it real moments of poignancy.

A Stitch in Time is released on 24 November in UK cinemas.

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