Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

My Brilliant Career

(Australia, 1979)

Judy Davis was twenty-four when she appeared in this, her first starring role and only her second movie. She can’t really pull off playing a girl who was actually in her late teens, but it doesn’t really matter. She is great as the willful, passionate young woman living in the Australian bush. All you need to see is a 360˚ pan around the totally flat, treeless landscape to see why she desperately needed to get out of that awful place. Naturally, it being 1900 or so, the only real option offered to her was to find a good husband. And she could have had him in Sam Neill, who was in love with her, and she sort of loved him, but preferred to think of him as her mate (Australian for friend). Her determination to write trumped everything else. (Damn, I’m going to have to stop using that verb now that the enormous asshole is just weeks away from defiling the White House with his billionaire squalor.)

This is based on the book of the same title by Miles Franklin, which was self-published and was a success. She had more feminine names, too, but elected to write as Miles, probably because books by men tended to sell better in those days. She had a long career as a writer. The director is Gillian Armstrong, who has made several films I liked. This one is great to look at, and tells the story well.