Vicky Roach, News Limited Network, reports
Kate Winslet is to star in The Dressmaker, a gothic tale of love, hate and haute couture set in Outback Australia in the 1950s and directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse (Proof).
The Oscar-winning actress will play Tilly, an avenging angel who returns to the country town where she grew up to care for her mad mother.
No other cast members have been confirmed.
Produced by Sue Maslin (Japanese Story), the bitter-sweet tragi-comedy will employ a top local crew including director of photography Don McAlpine (X-Men: Wolverine), costume designer Janet Patterson (Bright Star) and editor Jill Bilcock (Moulin Rouge).
According to Variety, which broke the news of Winslet’s casting from Cannes, pre-production will start in spring.
The Dressmaker is based on the novel by Melbourne-based author Rosalie Ham and is set in the fictional golden wheatbelt town of Dungatar. Location scouting has included the Wimmera region of north-west Victoria.
The Dressmaker will be Moorhouse's first film since her ill-fated 2005 adaptation of the Murray Bail novel Ecalyptus, starring Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, which imploded three days before filming was scheduled to start.
"Creative disagreements" was the official line at the time.
According to industry insiders, the project was scuttled by an irreconcilable breakdown between Crowe and Moorhouse. Complicating the situation was Crowe's position as executive producer.
Moorhouse, who recently directed her first play, Sex With Strangers, for the Sydney Theatre Company, had previously worked with the Oscar-winning actor on Proof.
Thematically, The Dressmaker finds Moorhouse on familiar turf.
In 1997, she directed Michelle Pfeiffer and Jessica Lange in a film adaptation of Jane Smiley's novel A Thousand Acres, described as "King Lear in Iowa."
Prior to that, she pulled together an illustrious female cast, including Winona Ryder, Ellen Burstyn and Anne Bancroft, for the film version of Whitney Otto's novel How To Make An American Quilt.
Most recently, she produced husband PJ Hogan's film Mental, starring Toni Collette.
Winslet's last worked in Australia in the late 1990s, on Jane Campion's film Holy Smoke, which filmed in outback South Australia.