Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Sleeping Beauty (2011)
Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Genre: Drama
Director: Julia Leigh
Starring: Emily Browning, Rachael Blake
Language: English
Duration: 102 min.
Rating: 7.6  

A haunting portrait of Lucy, a young university student drawn into a mysterious hidden world of unspoken desires.

Sleeping Beauty is the debut feature film from Australian director Julia Leigh.  It premiered in competition to a mixed reception at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. 

Far from the Disney princess evoked by its title, the sleeping beauty in this case is Lucy (Emily Browning), an university student who toils away at several part time jobs to make ends meet, waitressing in a pub, photocopying in an office, volunteering in a lab as a guinea pig, and still failing to make the rent.  Until she answers a strange ad in the student paper and enters a bizarre arrangement where she is paid handsomely to be drugged to sleep with no awareness of what happens to her.

Aesthetically this film is a visual marvel, every scene is carefully framed, expertly decorated, and filmed entirely with a wide or medium shot from a camera that almost never moves.  Giving a genuinely beautiful but cold, clinical and detached mood that mirrors the demeanor of the always on screen but seldom present Lucy.  She is wonderfully portrayed by the stunning Emily Browning who commands our attention with a performance of natural grace and of subdued expressions.  Ever so diminutive and fair skinned she looks deceivingly like a fragile porcelain doll, but acts like she's indestructible, bravely participating in a series of reckless and self destructive pursuits. 

Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Leigh's screenplay however is a frustrating one, curiously showing us too much and not enough at the same time.  Lucy is a complete mystery to us, but what happens to her is on full display.  We are privy to long uninterrupted takes of creepy old men doing disturbing things to Lucy's naked and unconscious body, but barely any hint of what is going through her mind or why she is compelled to do what she does.  It would have been much more powerful and effective the other way around, here the audience is kept at too far a distance and left to fill out the wrong missing pieces.

Overall this is still an impressive debut from an author turned director who clearly has some interesting things to say.  Hopefully she can work out a more compelling way to communicate those ideas on screen.  Well even more compelling than a nude Emily Browning.

Bonjour Tristesse

Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Sleeping Beauty (2011)


Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks for stopping by Aziza.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah I guess its unavoidable at this point to film any high class sex syndicate or party without reminding people of Kubrick.  Even though it was done hundreds of times before him.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yes the trailer is what intrigued me in the first place. 

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks, I've read some scathing reviews of this too.  But I also have to admit this isn't an easy film to like.

I also think the mystery is intentional, but I feel it's more frustrating than thought provoking in this case.

Aziza said...

I can't wait to see it! The trailer is very intriguing! Thanks for the review!

Chris said...

Photoshop airbrushed picture or not, thee's no denying she sure is beautiful on that poster. For me, the trailer brings back memories of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut

Lesya said...

Although I was not a fan of this movie, I'm glad that you speak about it positively. I've read some hateful comments on it and some people just don't seen to understand what cinema is. Some people said that cinematography was awful but what a ridiculous statement!

It's true that Lucy is a mystery to us. I disliked it but on the other hand maybe it was an important intentional decision of Julia Leigh.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Me too, it's a shame that most posters these days look like they were put together from the same half dozen templates.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah interesting is the right word.  It's not brilliant, nor is it terrible, its interesting.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yep you'd definitely have to be seriously messed up to accept that job offer. 

Bonjour Tristesse said...

From the initial reviews I read, I thought it would be disappointing too, but in the end wasn't let down as much as I expected.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

If this is intended to be a commentary on the roles of women in society, the director fails to make much of a profound message. 

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I think the mixed reviews lowered my expectations enough that I found it recommendable. 

Michaël Parent said...

I'll try to catch this one. It looks intriguying! The poster's great, I'm a sucker for movie poster though.

FrontRoomCinema said...

Interesting BT. I had seen very conflicting reviews for this one. I may get myself to see it now.

-E- said...

how many blue filters can you put on a lense? jesus.

Hoi-Ming Ng said...

Hmmm interesting premise but your score means it will be disappointing.

Shutter Bug said...

ooh! This looks good, especially the drama and the suspense! I want to watch this movie! 

Hermann Rorschach said...

"... creepy old men doing disturbing things to Lucy's naked and unconscious body..."
My eyes must be more perverted than the rest of me because that jumped out at me before getting to that point in a normal read.I don't care how bad I needed money, I would not undergo that procedure.  Interesting concept for a movie, though.

d_4 said...

What you write makes it seems odd. So does the trailer. I'm actually intrigued by this one with no idea on whether I'll like it or not. It'll be a leap for me but I want to give it a shot.

The Angry Lurker said...

I'm with the Reel Foto on this one.

The Reel Foto said...

i love browning, but the mixed reviews are keeping me away, even with the nudity. :(

NeverTooEarlyMP said...

It's certainly an interesting concept, and I've wondered whether the Sleeping Beauty title is meant to intentionally draw connections with the Disney version. It seems like there is some deep analysis of gender going on here, but since I haven't seen it I can't say for sure.

Mette said...

Loved the trailer of this one, I really hope it'll get a cinematic release here. Otherwise I'll make sure to catch it on DVD.

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