Sleeping Beauty is Yet Another Floozy Snoozer

Highbrow hooker escapism makes good case for great naps

still 3 Sleeping Beauty is Yet Another Floozy Snoozer

Ms. Browning.

In Australian novelist Julia Leigh’s kinky, frustrating debut film Sleeping Beauty, produced by Jane Campion, a pale, porcelain college student named Lucy (Emily Browning) escapes from the sterility of the university science lab by taking a job as an upscale prostitute in a high-rent mansion run by a cool, elegant and precisely mannered madam (Rachael Blake) who tells her, “Your vagina will be a temple.” The job begins with serving fancy dinners in lingerie, but escalates to something more esoteric as Lucy is driven to work by a chauffeur, drugged and sent comatose to a luxurious bed where old men are allowed to do whatever they want to her body, short of actual penetration. It’s an eroticized take on the old fairy tale, except that it is woefully boring, the sleeping beauty on view is so casual and ambivalent you don’t care what happens to her, and there is no Prince Charming at the end of her ordeal. We see the lurid details, but when she wakes up from her humiliations, Lucy remembers nothing. Of course it’s just a matter of time before her curiosity gets the best of her and she wants to see too. Buying a spy camera to record her activities, Lucy at last finds out what’s been happening to her in her sleep, and manages, understandably, to go wacko.

That’s all there is, and it’s not much fun watching an Australian director whose small goal in life is to ape French provocateur Catherine Breillat. There’s not much thrill in watching Ms. Browning, who is so anesthetized she seems to be dreaming whether she’s asleep or awake. What drags the film out for 101 minutes is the ritual of Lucy, manicured, pedicured and forced to match her lipstick to the color of her labia. I suppose some vague point is intended about how women are by nature forced to be all things to all men, so they might as well get paid for it. But of course we all know things have changed radically. Today’s self-sufficient women know where their power lies, controlling men in the office, bed and bank account. Movies like Sleeping Beauty are as sensual as cottage cheese, not to mention passé.

rreed@observer.com

SLEEPING BEAUTY

Running Time 104 minutes

Written and Directed by Julia Leigh

Starring Emily Browning, Rachael Blake and Ewen Leslie

1/4

Comments

  1. JT says:

    Just a note, Jane Campion did NOT produce this film.  She ‘presented it’ and was merely an advisor or mentor to the director.

  2. John says:

    Dreadful mess of a film.

  3. Lillyvon says:

    Watching it now – it’s awful. It’s like some new film maker (which Jane Campion is not) trying to make their own version of Eyes Wide Shut – very badly. It’s so arty try hard it’s actually pathetic.  What a shit film.  Do not watch – you’ll fall asleep or want to punch a hooker – either one!

  4. Shoottomidnight says:

    You are the worst film reviewer on the earth

    1. Roy Smith says:

      Only children talk like this and with their very limited life experience they haven’t absorbed enough to have much in the way of meaningful opinions including the relative quality of anything. 

  5. Have to agree Rex. I was astounded at the pretentiousness on display in this frustrating, incomprehensible mess of a film. It’s almost saved by Rachael Blake’s cool, elegant work as the madam. A movie about her would’ve been far more interesting.

  6. Emike says:

    To be seriously under the impression that the question of a woman’s body as a symbolic and physical sexual canvas for men is “passé” in embarassingly naïve. If anything, as women these days are gaining agency over their sexual bodies, they are forced to negotiate this new glimmer of power with the still powerfully present symbolic objectification of her body. Yes, woman these days are more “self-sufficient” but traditional views of the female body are far from outdated and today’s woman still has to struggle to find her place within this more complicated network of meaning. 

  7. Tigerbos says:

    Get your facts straight Rex Reed. Jane Campion did NOT produce this film.  She ‘presented it’ and served as mentor to  the director.

  8. Roy Smith says:

    I’ m astounded how bad the editing is – you could trim 30 minutes from this without losing anything important.  You could remove 140 minutes to create a short film that would not make any more sense but at least it wouldn’t be as boring.  Emily Browning had better seriously think about her next role – after this and Sucker Punch one move misstep and she’ll have to pursue a career as a a waitress or erotic model  which is largely what her acting career has transformed into anyway.