A documentary examining the life of filmmaker John Milius
On Film4: 7 Apr 11:05PM
Judy Davis and Sam Neill lead this multi-award winning coming-of-age drama set in Australia at the start of the last century.
An ambitious young girl dreams of becoming a writer but circumstances conspire against her.
Based on the novel by Miles Franklin this quietly powerful drama launched the careers of Davis, Neill and director Gillian Armstrong and remains a high point in the great Aussie film renaissance of the late 70s.
Sybylla Melvyn (Davies) is the oldest daughter of impoverished New South Wales farmers. Dreaming of escape and a career as a writer she forfeits romance with Harry Beacham (Neill) and takes a job as a governess in the repressive McSwatt household, all the while nursing her literary ambitions. It's a gamble that pays off and eventually Sybylla finds success as a writer and, just as significantly, as an independent woman.
At the time of the film's release much was made of its feminist credentials and Armstrong is certainly as interested in the social issues as the human drama. However it avoids polemic, the romance between Davis and Neill is delicately played out and what emerges is an articulate study of a strong and intelligent woman's battle for self-determination.
Slow but rewarding character piece that delivers its message of female emancipation with subtlety and grace.
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