Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


MY BRILLIANT CAREER (1979). Director: Gillian Armstrong.

Judy Davis is Sybylla, a young woman from the Outback who is sent by her poor parents to live with her wealthier relatives where she meets a handsome neighbor, Harry Beecham (Sam Neill), but is determined to preserve her feisty independence. This is a well-made, well-acted, and entertaining picture, but while it was trumpeted as some kind of feminist manifesto and is based on a true story, it comes off more like a typical "Bette Davis" movie. [Remember, Davis and other actresses of the golden age often played feisty and independent women.] Having the guy who is tall, dark and handsome improbably fall for the "homely" Sybylla taps into the same wish-fulfillment fantasy of many another movie starring Davis and others and is pure "Hollywood" (even if this was made in Australia). The scene when Sybylla snubs Harry at a ritzy party and then dashes out to the barn to dance with the poor ranch employees, snatching one guy away from his girlfriend, is pure [Bette] Davis. Yet fans of the film seemed to see it as something new and original. Still, Judy Davis gives a solid performance and Neill is quite good as well and the film does present an interesting lead character.

Verdict: Not so original but otherwise not bad at all. ***

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