Sleeping Beauty

Posted: October 27, 2011 by curlyshirley in Film
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In a nutshell: For grown ups only.

Popcorn rating: 3.5/5

It would have been hard to believe back in 2004, when the fantastical chilren’s adventure Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events was released, that the oldest Baudelaire sibling (baby faced Melbournian Emily Browning) would grow up to play roles so inherently erotic, so hard hitting and so devastatingly heartbreaking. I mean, of course, her portrayal of the ass-kicking BabyDoll (nemesis of all things CGI) in the adolescent wet dream Sucker Punch, and, on the opposite side of the Hollywood scale, the tragic, eponymous lead in the celluloid poem Sleeping Beauty. As her IMDB entry proves, one thing is sure about Browning, she is nothing if not eclectic.

Shrugging off all memories of Sucker Punch (thankfully), Sleeping Beauty sees Browning back to brunette as Lucy, a disaffected twenty-something working odd jobs for cash while making her way through college. There is little Lucy won’t do for cold, hard bucks, from office admin to offering herself up for clinical research.

After answering an advert in a student newspaper, Lucy is drawn into a strange, erotic world where she is paid to submit totally. Fast asleep on unknown drugs, Lucy is made available for selected clients to do as they please to her, bar penetration and anything that will mark her body. She is also required to not ask questions about her sleeping hours, but soon, as her life in the real world slowly unravels, she finds her curiosity around this secret existence growing – she must find out what is happening to her while she sleeps.

An obviously disaffected young woman, Lucy’s deeper issues are never made clear. She is presented to her male clientele as an exquisite beauty, a willing and seemingly innocent living doll, but in the real world we see others treat her with disdain, bordering on hatred. Equally bemusing is her actions  – she burns money, she lies to her mother, she rents an apartment on a whim and, most intriguingly, has an alcoholic friend (Leslie Ewen) who appears to be the only person she loves. There are no answers, no explanations for any of this, which is understandably frustrating but also, surprisingly, adds to the haunted, poetic feel of the film. Too much exposition, you see, might break the spell.

The directorial debut from Julia Leigh (with Jane Campion giving it added kudos), Sleeping Beauty is as far away from a child’s fairy tale as you can imagine. And yet, it has retained a quality that is synonymous with those age old stories – an ethereal air, a fragility, or perhaps merely a  starkness, that makes is mesmerising. While there may be nothing magical here, nonetheless it is a world removed from normality, an erotic dreamscape where hearts can shatter and no one really cares.

Reviewer: CurlyShirley

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sleeping Beauty a great film. It leaves it’s mark for sure. Directed by Julia Stiles? Actress? Spot on observations CurlyShirley.

  2. curlyshirley says:

    Agh no – it should be Julie Leigh not Julia Stiles. Will amend 2moro, thanks for letting me know. Honestly, who put me in charge of a blog?

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