Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 16th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: Australia, 1979
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Writer: Eleanor Witcombe
Cast: Judy Davis, Sam Neill, Wendy Hughes, Robert Grubb, Max Cullen, Aileen Britton, Peter Whitford, Patricia Kennedy, Alan Hopgood, Julia Blake, David Franklin, Marion Shad
BluRay released: November 24th, 2009
Approximate running time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English, DD-EX 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region 0
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: A young woman who is determined to maintain her independence finds herself at odds with her family who wants her to tame her wild side and get married.
My Brilliant Career was director Gillian Armstrong’s feature film debut. Some of her other notable films include Starstruck and Little Women (1994). The screenplay for My Brilliant Career was adapted from Miles Franklin novel of the same name which was first published in 1901. The cinematographer on My Brilliant Career was Donald McAlpine, whose other notable credits as a cinematographer include, Patrick, Predator, Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! Another key collaborator on My Brilliant Career was academy award winning production designer Luciana Arrighi (Howards End).
My Brilliant Career is an extraordinary film that centers around an ambitious young woman named Sybylla whose family tries to shape her into someone she is not. Her mother sends her away to live with her wealthy grandmother who takes charge of making Sybylla a proper young lady and finding her a husband. As the story progresses Sybylla becomes object of desire of two suitors, Frank a wealthy friend of her grandmothers’ and a childhood friend Harry. Besides Sybylla’s quest for independence, the film’s other main plot centers around Sybylla and Harry’s evolving romance. While it quickly becomes clear that Sybylla loves Harry. She is hesitant to fully acknowledge her feelings because she fears that in doing so she will lose the independence she holds so dearly.
Without a doubt what makes this film so compelling to watch is its main character Sybylla and Judy Davis’s performance in the role of Sybylla fully realizes the many layers of this fascinating character. Another performance if note is Sam Neill (Possession), in the role of Harry. If any flaw this film has is that outside of the Sybylla character, the rest of the characters are one dimensional. Also while there elements in this film that one would identify with romance films, the end result is something far more resonating than your typical romantic cinema fodder (especially the films twist ending).
My Brilliant Career comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Blue Underground had previously released My Brilliant Career on DVD in 2005. The image for this BluRay release has a more natural looking layer of grain, colors look nicely saturated, flesh tones look accurate, black levels are solid and details look crisp throughout. There are no problems with edge enhancement and DNR is kept in check.
This release comes with three audio options, a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English, a DD-EX 5.1 English and a Dolby Digital Mono English. The DD-EX 5.1 English and a Dolby Digital Mono English audio mixes have been carried over from Blue Underground’s 2005 DVD release. A Dolby Digital Surround English audio mix and a DTS ES 6.1 audio mix from that DVD release have not been included with this BluRay release. All three audio mixes sound clear, clean, balanced and at times robust. The most pleasing of the three audio mixes is the Dolby Digital Mono English audio mix, while the other two audio mixes are primarily concentrated from the front and center speakers with the more ambient sounds primarily coming from the rear channels. Removable English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles have been included.
Extras for this release include The U.S. theatrical trailer (1 minutes 45 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), the Australian theatrical trailer (3 minutes – anamorphic widescreen), a vintage clip from film’s premiere at Cannes (2 minutes 21 seconds – 1.33:1 ‘full frame’ aspect ratio), a segment about the author who wrote the novel which the films was adapted from titled “The Miles Franklin Story” (4 minutes 4 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and two interviews, the first interview with director Gillian Armstrong (8 minutes 15 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and the second interview is with producer Margaret Fink (8 minutes 31 seconds – anamorphic widescreen). The main extra included with this release is an audio commentary with director Gillian Armstrong. The two interviews and the segment on Miles Franklin while interesting they feel abrupt, while audio commentary with director Gillian Armstrong gives a more well rounded and insightful look into My Brilliant Career. All the extras are presented in a standard definition NTSC. Two extras from the 2005 DVD release a poster & still gallery and a DVD-Rom extra titled “Teachers’ Study Guide” have not been carried over for this release. Overall My Brilliant Career is another solid BluRay from Blue Underground.