‘My Brilliant Career’ The Best Schlocky Faux-Feminist Drama You Haven’t Seen Yet!
Oh my god, you guys.
Stop what you are doing, cancel your plans, break up with boyfriend, and then go to Netflix and watch My Brilliant Career.
This 1979 Australian drama was directed by Gillian Armstrong – who I hilariously confused with Gillian Anderson and was all “SCULLY WAS A DIRECTORIAL PRODIGY!” This Gillian directed Little Women – MAYBE YOU HAVE HEARD OF IT? The movie is exactly the same as that one, if instead of having sisters and Professor Baeher, Jo has nothing and no one but her work…but less depressing than that sounds. It stars Judy Davis, also known as maybe the best actress ever, and Sam Neil from Merlin, Jurassic Park, and Alcatraz.
The plot is ridiculously simple. Judy Davis is all “I am red-haired and spirited and dirt poor, and even though my wealthy maternal grandmother wants to help me elevate my station here in late 19th century Australia, I’m still gonna pretend I am a bawdy cockney house-maid and also repeatedly bludgeon a foxy heir with a pillow to express my sexy feelings feelings for him!” and then everyone else is all “You are homely” except for Sam Neil who is all “You fiiiiine,” and everyone else is all “Her?”
They knew each other when they were kids, but they haven’t seen each other since puberty happened. So he mistakes her as a servant picking apples and tries to sexually assault her and she likes it. Then they are in love, but they haven’t said it, because I think she might have a social disorder – seriously she chases him down with a pillow for a sequence that is easily eight hundred years long. Later on she shoves him off a boat. It is the best. This is all while she is visiting his palatial estate. Was it close to Far Away Downs? Is Far Away Downs even real? These are the questions we have to ask ourselves when watching Australian cinema.
At the end of his visit, he is all “I have to go help get them bloody bulls on that big metal ship,” but he promises to come see her as soon as he gets back. In the mean time, she has to go back to her grandmother’s house where she cries some and then when this total English dick gives her some flowers she throws them into a lake and then dances in the rain. Also an old man is taught to ride a bicycle by an old lady. It was pretty okay when that happened.
But then Sam Neil is back! But Judy Davis didn’t know! Because he didn’t come see her like he promised! So she is all “I will go to the post office and country store with this stupid English guy because then I will see Merlin and we will make magic together,” and on the way there the dumb English guy is all “Girl, you ugly, but I dig you okay,” so when he gets off the buggy to open a gate she keeps going and leaves him there. SYBYLLA DOES NOT EVEN GIVE A FUCK! She is all “Eff husbands, Ima be a writer – or be a concert pianist who only plays this one song by Schuman!” FACT: Judy Davis learned how to play all her own music – because she is a baller. An angry, angry, seagull of a baller.
So when she gets to the Library Post Store, Sam Neil is there and that man can wear a hat, y’all. And she is all “I thought we were mates!” and my heart breaks into a million pieces, and then he is all “I heard you been banging everyone in town!” and she is devastated! Because of how that is lies! Which, clearly – the woman expresses her attraction to people by hitting them and running away! But he says he’ll see her at the ball! Because a ball happens! And she wears this white dress and looks beautiful! But Sam Neil spends all his time talking to some blond bitch in green! And Judy Davis is so mad about this that she makes a sex joke about cows at the table, and everyone is scandalized except for Sam Neil’s crazy aunt who owns parrots and teaches people to ride bicycles. She thinks Judy is precocious! And tender! SHE IS SO RIGHT!
Then dinner is over and everyone is dancing but Judy Davis is so angry that she won’t even talk to Sam Neil even when he comes over to talk to her and he looks so good in his tux (SAM NEIL WHY AREN’T YOU THIS HOT ANYMORE!? I WEEP FOR YOUR FORMER BEAUTY, MAN! AND THIS ISN’T AGEIST BECAUSE I AM WAY INTO A LOT OF OLD DUDES! HAS SOME SPARK DIED WITHIN YOU SAM NEIL? ALSO I USED TO CONFUSE YOU WITH SAM SHEPHERD AND TELL PEOPLE THAT SAM SHEPHERD WAS IN JURASSIC PARK!) but Sybylla is too hurt to deal with it – and I am all “OMG Judy Davis just smooch him already!” but then I get quiet because maybe Judy Davis is accidentally perfect at playing hard to get and I should shut up, pay attention and learn something. Judy is still angry, so to express her anger, she dances with some peasants! Scandal-makers!
While she is dancing with some peasants, all the riches come to humor the peasants and everyone is all “Cow sex jokes and dancing with poors? HEAVENS!” and Judy Davis pretends not to give a fuck but really she does because of how much she loves Sam Neil but is torn between her desire to live a life of art free from subjugation and also to just plain fuck his brains out on the regs!
Sam Neil watches her dance with peasants and it fills him with wrath! And arousal! So he drags her off into like, the unabomber’s secret shed and tries to smooch on her and align his genitals with hers and she is all “NO MEANS YES!” And finally he proposes to her and then… she bullwhips him in the face! Seriously! Like, with a bullwhip! Then she cries because she thinks marriage is the worst.
The next day he confesses he is losing all of his money and they tenderly touch foreheads. And then later on they make out and she agrees to marry him in two years once she has conceivably solved all of the problems in the world and Sam Neil is like “I am totally okay with this, because I have a reputation as a ladies man in Melbourne – the sexiest of all Australia’s cities – and I will go here, and touch a lot of boobs for two years.”
But then – drama! Her dad loses some money he was loaned by another illiterate farmer! And he trades Judy Davis’s skills as a governess for cash, and everyone is all “This is so sad, because we had almost made her a lady,” but then no one helps her and she has to make some inbred red-haired Australians (Nicole Kidman was not there) learn how to read, and at least seven of these children do not wear pants ever. First she hates it, but once the mother accepts that Judy Davis is going to beat the children everything works out, and maybe Judy Davis grows up a little and reads sexy stories to the children which was weird.
Then Judy Davis is fired because the illiterates think she is in love with their son and Judy Davis is all “JACKPOT!” and she goes back to her family’s farm and she tries to write to Sam Neil when she hears he is macking it to her sister, but she can’t and instead she goes and lugs this calf out of some mud which I think was a metaphor and then Sam Neil is there and he is like “I love you and I want to marry you,” and she is all “No, I want to be artist!” and I died! I died so much because Sam Neil is all “I thought you loved me.” and then I was crying because this was a time where woman were still expected to fully martyr themselves for their art and she chooses her art and Sam Neil goes away to be consoled by the boobs of Melbourne (presumably) and then Judy Davis writes a book about all of this and sends it to Scotland.
Oh my god you guys it is so good. Seriously. I want to watch it again right now.