May 16, 1983 12:00 PM

If My Brilliant Career didn’t establish Australian actress Judy Davis in this country, this film should. Davis has a marvelously responsive face, which can register defiance and fear at the same time, seem at once hostile and sensual, appear both beautiful and shattered. And she gets plenty of chances to demonstrate her range—too many chances, in fact. This is an overwrought story about a group of poor Sydney people opposing a new apartment project that will force them to leave their homes. Davis plays the anarchist leader of the group; newcomer Richard Moir is the leftist turned Establishment architect who designed the project. Director Phillip Noyce uses color and light to create an all-but-tangible mood of heat and oppression, but the film disintegrates into a morass of symbolism (the project is named “Eden,” and the audience is beat over the head with the biblical implications of man’s unworthiness). The movie will be forgotten. Davis won’t. (R)

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