Directed by Gillian Armstrong • 1979 • Australia
Starring Judy Davis, Sam Neill
For her award-winning breakthrough film, director Gillian Armstrong drew on teenage author Miles Franklin’s novel, a celebrated turn-of-the-twentieth-century Australian coming-of-age story, to brashly upend the conventions of period romance. Headstrong young Sybylla Melvyn (Judy Davis, in a star-making performance), bemoans her stifling life in the backcountry, where her writerly ambitions receive little encouragement, and craves independence above all else. When a handsome landowner (Sam Neill), disarmed by her unruly charms, begins to court her, Sybylla must decide whether she can reconcile the prospect of marriage with the illustrious life’s work she has imagined for herself. Suffused with generous humor and a youthful appetite for experience, MY BRILLIANT CAREER is a luminous portrait of an ardently free spirit.