FRIDAY, MARCH 2:
Sleeping Beauty ***
Director: Julia Leigh.
Stars: Emily Browning (Lucy), Rachael Blake (Clara) and Ewen Leslie (Birdmann)
Country: Australia, 2011
Running Time: 100 mins
Sleeping Beauty is the antithesis to the romantic, innocent fairytale of our childhoods.
This disturbing modern fable for our times depicts the sexual exploitation of a student by decrepit clients of a fetish escort agency.
There is no handsome prince. Indeed the only character who shows any signs of tenderness is a suicidal alcoholic, Birdmann (Ewen Leslie).
The scenes between Birdmann and anti-heroine Lucy (Emily Browning) are perhaps the most engaging in the film, but we’ve seen them before, in Mike Figgis’ Leaving Las Vegas.
The film also has a déjà vu in its depiction of main character, Lucy.
To me, Sleeping Beauty was reminiscent of Lynne Ramsay’s Morvern Callar, in its depiction of a young girl embarking on a mercenary adventure devoid of established morals.
Both cover up the death of a close friend/boyfriend and share the same unemotional, clinical detachment from life.
Experimenting with drugs and sex is their only means of escapism from a mundane daily existence.
Emily Browning gives an excellent performance as Lucy and Sleeping Beauty is an interesting character study of a student forced to pay for her education through prostitution.
Some people will find this film erotic, others will find it distasteful.
But at the end of the day, director Julia Leigh does not awaken any emotions within the audience towards this Sleeping Beauty.
The ending is vague and open-ended, and as we don’t feel any empathy towards Lucy, we don’t really care what happens to her.