Sleeping Beauty (2011)

JULIA LEIGH

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB, 2011, , , , , , Screenplay by , based on an idea by Cinematography by Produced by Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by Cannes Film Festival 2011.

plays a university student who does a series of jobs to get by, among them volunteering at a medical lab, waiting tables, filing in an office and even turning the odd trick in the evening. She answers an ad for another part-time job and finds herself in an unusual but not, to her, frightening situation: she is hired to work a private dinner party in which she will serve drinks in her unmentionables.  Because she pulls the job off well, she is brought back by the same mysterious, elegant woman () and asked to do an even riskier gig for even more money.  Blake’s clients are wealthy old men who pay to spend the night with a beautiful woman who remains asleep the entire time, which Browning agrees to do; on a series of occasions she is brought to the house where she is given a sleeping draught in her tea, which knocks her out cold and we see her clients get into the sack with her. The assignment includes the promise that she won’t be penetrated in the night, but not all wealthy leches are built the same and, after she wakes up feeling odd and even finds marks on her body, she gets curious about what it is that she doesn’t actually remember happening to her. Julia Leigh’s directorial debut is admirable for how boldly it portrays its subject matter, creating a series of beautiful images that neither encourage ogling nor falsely pretend to be above the kind of voyeurism that is being examined. Her main character isn’t overly expressive but she’s not passive either, the film isn’t the celebration of victimhood that it could easily have turned into (particularly considering how it ends), and isn’t the work of a misanthrope or cynic. The problem, though, is that it’s boring and at a certain point one ceases to really care about where it’s all going, the situations that Browning finds herself in have less tension as they progress and the picturesque photography does little to compensate for this.

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