Gillian Armstrong’s My Brilliant Career (1979) belongs to a special category of films in my personal canon. Sometimes a movie hits you like a bolt out of the blue and you know it is going to be a permanent fixture on your list of favorite films of all time. The first time I saw this was very much one of those experiences. The wild Australian landscape and Judy Davis’ even wilder hair were immediately intriguing. It had me hooked from the first moments and I just fell more in love with this character with every frame. I both empathize with and take great delight in watching Sybylla kick against these pricks. You can ship her off for refinement, you can volunteer her into servitude, but you cannot keep this woman down.
My Brilliant Career is an object lesson in having faith in your own greatness. I find it to be incredibly inspiring. But it’s not just a somber slog of overcoming obstacles. It’s romantic. It’s sly. Most importantly, it’s fun! Sybylla is on the threshold of an amazing life and it is a true privilege to get to know her. It’s half A Room with a View and half Pippi Longstocking and it’s perfect if you like women that are determined, smart, and who know where they are going. I really do think this is one of Australia’s greatest cinematic achievements. Hopefully, you will too.
What you’ll find in this episode: bawdy songs, dirty jokes, freckles, unconventional beauty, pianos, cages, and rocking the boat.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out My Brilliant Career on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of Impromptu.
Cole’s further viewing pick of The Getting of Wisdom.
The home of the Sydney Women’s International Film Festival.
My Letterboxd list of my favorite films.