DVD Review

My Brilliant Career/Swimming Upstream

EW reviews two Judy Davis DVDs -- We grade her turn in ''My Brilliant Career'' and ''Swimming Upstream''

EW reviews two Judy Davis DVDs

Strength. That's what Judy Davis embodies, whether radiating it in her breakthrough role as Brilliant Career's Sybylla, a young woman in 1890s Australia determined to live independently, or preaching it as the mother of a young man (House's Jesse Spencer) desperate to win his abusive father's approval in Swimming Upstream's true story of Aussie swimmer Tony Fingleton. Both films feature worthy leading men: Sam Neill matches Davis, especially in a sweetly seductive outdoor pillow fight (lovingly filmed by future Moulin Rouge cinemato-grapher Donald McAlpine). Geoffrey Rush's hardened performance as father Fingleton — who secretly trains his favored son to beat Tony — proves the only thing worse than a society trying to keep you down is a parent on that mission. EXTRAS While Upstream's 13 deleted scenes satisfy, with more Davis, Rush, and racing, the superficial making-of leaves you longing to hear more from Fingleton (who wrote the screenplay, based on his autobiography). Brilliant boasts a commentary and interview with director Gillian Armstrong (who claims Davis didn't actually like her character); a chat with producer Margaret Fink (who further expounds on the movie's then-controversial feminist ending); and a featurette on Miles Franklin, who wrote the Brilliant novel as a teenager. Brilliant: A-
Upstream: B-

Originally posted May 30, 2005 Published in issue #823 Jun 03, 2005 Order article reprints
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