Movie Review: Sleeping Beauty

In the last couple of years it seems like Australian cinema has had a real surge in quality productions but with this the directorial debut from Julia Leigh its not just hit a massive speedbump but its also claimed a steaming great pile of cinematic roadkill.

The concept of Sleeping Beauty is quite interesting, Lucy (played here by Emily Browning) is a student who begins working various jobs and volunteering for different experiments to pay for her studies. We quickly learn that Lucy is the most vapid, one dimensional and passive figure to possibly step in front of a camera. She is quite literally willing for anything to happen to her and not a give a shit, in one scene we see her flip a coin to see which stranger she will sleep with. She is completely empty on the inside and out, the reason for this? We never find out, instead we’re presented with this morbid, maudlin, blank canvas all the way to the end scene. And when we do finally see some form of emotion its completely over acted and makes no goddamn sense. But before I digress any further….

After answering an advert in the student paper Lucy finds herself a new job, a new job which requires her to go by the name of Sara, strip down to her provocative lingerie and serve dinner to the most lecherous group of dirty old bastards you’ve ever seen. I dont know about you but when I was a student I never saw that kind of work advertised in the student paper! Eventually her new line of work leads her down a much darker path. At the request of one the aforementioned dirty old dinner guests Lucy/Sara is given some kind of anaesthetic and falls asleep where her host is allowed to do whatever he wants (except penetration) while she is unconscious. Does it sound weird yet? What follows is a series of disjointed scenes where other dirty old men do things with Lucy while she sleeps, Lucy picking up more random dudes like the passive slut she is and Lucy visiting her friend Birdman. Birdman for the record seems to be the only thing she cares about, again this is not explained and his whole existence in the film seems utterly pointless. Even Julia Leigh seems to realise this at one point when she does something even more pointless with the charachter later in the film.

Sleeping Beauty to be quite frank is not worth the time or the money its just as, if not more devoid of point and purpose than Emily Brownings character. It goes nowhere, it does nothing yet it carries this smug air about it as if the clinical, cold nature of the film is some kind of deep meaningful expression of disconnected sex and voyeurism. Well I have news for you it isn’t, it dosent even come close to being that. To do so would require dialogue that isnt pitiful, acting that isnt awful, charachters with some kind of arc or reason for existence and most importantly a point. I have no idea what Leigh is trying to accomplish with this film, whats even worse is that its abundantly clear that she dosent either. If dreadfully pretentious films with copius amounts of over compensating nudity is your thing then you’ll love Sleeping Beauty, if you actually like movies you wont.


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The Author

Mal Foster

Mal Foster

Writer by day, ski mask wearing vigilante by night. I like bears, sarcasm and magic, not necessarily in that order. Rather fond of summer fruits mixed into some kind of refreshing juice, movies, music and videogames. Also I may not be entirely human. Visit my site -