Adapted from the novel by Miles Franklin (the pen name for Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin), My Brilliant Career is the Australian story of one woman, two suitors, and a passion for the pen. Both men want marriage, and Sybylla (Judy Davis) does not. There’s a parallel here between Sybylla and the land. Australia circa 1900 is being colonized by force with the wealthy establishing their territories by squatting, erecting fences, and pretending it was there’s all along. Sybylla has no interest in being squat upon, though she does love Harry (Sam Neill). But she also knows that marriage comes with a price: The end of her career in letters. There are many similarities between Franklin’s My Brilliant Career and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, which is probably how My Brilliant Career director Gillian Armstrong got the gig directing the ‘94 adaptation of the March sisters.
My Brilliant Career is available to stream on The Criterion Channel and HBO Max. The above review first appeared in the pages of Boulder Weekly Vol. 27, No. 41, “Home Viewing: Writers on Screen.”