My Brilliant Career

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Actress Judy Davis and director Gillian Armstrong both made a huge splash on the international arthouse scene with this stunning Australian drama about a free-spirited young writer who refuses to conform to society’s expectations of how a “proper woman” should live her life.

“Daring, assured and high-spirited … offers a turn-of-the-century heroine who seems to have wandered from the pages of a Louisa May Alcott novel into the Australian Outback.” –Janet Maslin, New York Times

A key work of the Australian Film Revival of the 1970s, My Brilliant Career features the extraordinary Judy Davis (in her first starring role) as Sybylla Melvyn, a headstrong young woman of no particular means sent to live with her wealthy grandmother in the Australian Outback at the turn of the 20th century. There, she enters into a flirtation with Harry Beecham (Sam Neill), a childhood friend and neighboring property owner who seems prepared to give Sybylla everything a young woman of the time might desire. Except what Sybylla wants most of all is to experience the world on her own terms, and perchance to become a writer with her own career. As she grows from insecure tomboy to self-assured woman, Sybylla stuns her family and friends with her insistence on following her dreams, in spite of the odds stacked against her in a repressive Victorian society. A major box-office hit that exemplified the feminist cinema of the late ‘70s, My Brilliant Career launched future Oscar-nominee Davis and director Gillian Armstrong (Little Women) on their own brilliant film careers. (Dir. by Gillian Armstrong, 1979, Australia, 100 mins., Rated G)