My Brilliant Career (1979)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

My Brilliant Career Videos & Photos

Movie Info

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.

Rating: G
Genre: Drama, Romance, Art House & International
Directed By:
Written By: Eleanor Witcombe
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 31, 2005
Westchester Films - Official Site


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 Squatter

as Mary Anne McSwat

as Rosie Jane McSwat

as Peter McSwat

as Mailman

as Stanley

as Mr. Harris

as Tommy McSwat

as Mrs. Derrick

as Mrs. Butler

as Blanche Derrick
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for My Brilliant Career

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (5)

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.

Full Review… | September 9, 2014
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | July 25, 2008
Top Critic

The period atmosphere is evoked with careful delicacy, but the characters rarely become more than stereotypes with performances (Judy Davis excepted) to match.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

The action and sentiments are familiar to the point of cliche, and there isn't much life in Gillian Armstrong's academic direction.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Armstrong's subsequent sojourn in Hollywood never yielded a film as engaging and passionately felt as this, her brilliant feature debut.

Full Review… | September 9, 2014
Radio Times

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.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


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.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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