My Brilliant Career (1979)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
Set in the Australian outback during the late 19th century, this film focuses on Sybylla Melvyn, a young woman who goes against the grain of society -- and against the beliefs of her family -- to begin a career, allowing nothing to stop her from getting what she wants.
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as Sybylla Melvyn
as Harry Beecham
as Aunt Helen
as Frank Hawdon
as Mr. McSwat
as Aunt Gussie
as Grandma Bossier
as Uncle Julius
as Mrs. McSwat
as Willie McSwat
as Peter McSwat
as Lizer McSwat
as Jimmy McSwat
as Sarah McSwat
as Mary Anne McSwat
as Rosie Jane McSwat
as Peter McSwat
as Mr. Harris
as Tommy McSwat
as Mrs. Derrick
as Mrs. Butler
as Blanche Derrick
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Critic Reviews for My Brilliant Career
This is a modest, clear sighted film, and it profits considerably from a lack of the bravura landscape photography that most directors would have used to puff up a movie set in Australia.
This Australian film is a charming look at 19th-century rural days in general and the stirrings of self-realization and feminine liberation in the persona of a headstrong young girl who wants to go her own way.
The period atmosphere is evoked with careful delicacy, but the characters rarely become more than stereotypes with performances (Judy Davis excepted) to match.
My Brilliant Career marks the beginning of exactly that for both the film's daring, assured, high-spirited Australian director, Gillian Armstrong, and its rambunctious young star.
The action and sentiments are familiar to the point of cliche, and there isn't much life in Gillian Armstrong's academic direction.
Audience Reviews for My Brilliant Career
A woman with literary aspirations falls for an upper class man who tempts her toward marriage, away from her work.
The film sets up a familiar dichotomy: Sybylla finds that she must either pursue her career ambitions or settle down to the expectations of Victorian society and marry. Obviously, this is a familiar construct, one replayed to perfection in Henry James's Portrait of a Lady, but what I found lacking in My Brilliant Career was an exploration of who Sybylla is as an artist. After all, whether or not her book is good and should be written is significant. Instead, what becomes clear is how she doesn't fit in with Victorian, upper-class society and seems even more out of place with lower class society. Her only connection is with Harry Beecham, whom she rejects to pursue her work.
Overall, because one side of the conflict is never fully explored, I found most of My Brilliant Career lacking.
Sybylla Melvyn is a girl with a spark. She's also a girl who refuses to let 19th century sensibilities extinguish it. Set in Australia in the late 1800's, My Brilliant Career chronicles the story of a woman years ahead of her time.
Whoever cast Judy Davis as 'plain and ugly' ought to have their eyesight examined. Even without makeup she's absolutely radiant. Otherwise, she is perfectly suited for this engrossing, subtly romantic docudrama. Highly recommended.
Slow moving enlightenment drama with Judy Davis giving an excellent performance as usual. The characters are just to remote to really engage you leaving you feeling little for their stuggles.
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