Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Sleeping Beauty

Brrrr. This study of a young girl’s descent into a most rarefied form of whoring is as coldly clinical as it is annoyingly pretentious.

Dec 2, 2011

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1296618-Sleeping_Beauty_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

What with House of Pleasures and now, Sleeping Beauty, this seems to be the season of super-serious and arty investigations of prostitution. Here, writer-director and erstwhile novelist Julia Leigh spins the bleak tale of Lucy (Emily Browning), a gorgeous but somehow very desperate girl who ekes out a meager subsistence as office drone, waitress, lab-test volunteer and the odd trick. She answers an ad which leads her to Carla (Rachael Blake), the madam of a very classy bordello which caters to the very rich and powerful and lonely. Lucy is put through an arduous makeover, involving bikini waxing and a new wardrobe, all the while being assured by Carla that “your vagina is a temple—there will be no penetration.”

You might want to stifle a giggle hearing that last, but such is the overall queasy tone of this film, which endlessly proffers the outrageous and unlikely with the grimmest of poker faces, as if to say: “This here is one serious subject we must all attend to.” One supposes that Leigh is making some kind of statement about the modern world’s alienation which leads to this kind of cruelly bland exploitation of nubile female flesh, but it simply feels more exploitative than anything else.

When you see Lucy, doped and completely unconscious, being salivated over and pawed by various, panting moneyed geezers (all too willing to doff their kits for some sadly withered full Monty), it’s just freaking creepy. Blake, so good in Lantana, is rather amusing, in a deadpan way, in the kind of role that Judith Anderson would have had more fun with, but Browning, although as flawlessly beautiful as a Pre-Raphaelite artist’s model, or even the young Dolly Parton, whom she juicily resembles facially, plays Lucy with such an air of listless affectlessness that it is impossible to feel much of anything for her, apart from a vague sort of pity. She is dutifully put through Leigh’s paces, stripped naked, with her body being thrown about like one of those inflatable erotic doppelgangers, gagging during medical tests and vomiting, in a way to make you wonder about the desperation of talented, beautiful young actresses for work.

Lucy has a typically oblique relationship with a physically ailing friend, Birdmann (Ewen Leslie), which is supposed to tell us something about her capacity for human interaction. It doesn’t, and merely adds to the overall aura of mystery, aside from a very predictable, “shocking” ending, which merely amounts to a sizeable “So what?”


Film Review: Sleeping Beauty

Brrrr. This study of a young girl’s descent into a most rarefied form of whoring is as coldly clinical as it is annoyingly pretentious.

Dec 2, 2011

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1296618-Sleeping_Beauty_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

What with House of Pleasures and now, Sleeping Beauty, this seems to be the season of super-serious and arty investigations of prostitution. Here, writer-director and erstwhile novelist Julia Leigh spins the bleak tale of Lucy (Emily Browning), a gorgeous but somehow very desperate girl who ekes out a meager subsistence as office drone, waitress, lab-test volunteer and the odd trick. She answers an ad which leads her to Carla (Rachael Blake), the madam of a very classy bordello which caters to the very rich and powerful and lonely. Lucy is put through an arduous makeover, involving bikini waxing and a new wardrobe, all the while being assured by Carla that “your vagina is a temple—there will be no penetration.”

You might want to stifle a giggle hearing that last, but such is the overall queasy tone of this film, which endlessly proffers the outrageous and unlikely with the grimmest of poker faces, as if to say: “This here is one serious subject we must all attend to.” One supposes that Leigh is making some kind of statement about the modern world’s alienation which leads to this kind of cruelly bland exploitation of nubile female flesh, but it simply feels more exploitative than anything else.

When you see Lucy, doped and completely unconscious, being salivated over and pawed by various, panting moneyed geezers (all too willing to doff their kits for some sadly withered full Monty), it’s just freaking creepy. Blake, so good in Lantana, is rather amusing, in a deadpan way, in the kind of role that Judith Anderson would have had more fun with, but Browning, although as flawlessly beautiful as a Pre-Raphaelite artist’s model, or even the young Dolly Parton, whom she juicily resembles facially, plays Lucy with such an air of listless affectlessness that it is impossible to feel much of anything for her, apart from a vague sort of pity. She is dutifully put through Leigh’s paces, stripped naked, with her body being thrown about like one of those inflatable erotic doppelgangers, gagging during medical tests and vomiting, in a way to make you wonder about the desperation of talented, beautiful young actresses for work.

Lucy has a typically oblique relationship with a physically ailing friend, Birdmann (Ewen Leslie), which is supposed to tell us something about her capacity for human interaction. It doesn’t, and merely adds to the overall aura of mystery, aside from a very predictable, “shocking” ending, which merely amounts to a sizeable “So what?”
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Two Days One Night
Film Review: Two Days, One Night

Uncharacteristically, this new movie from Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne moves rather slowly, and mostly consists of the hero having similar conversations with a number of her colleagues, yet a good cast and the Dardennes’ understated portrait of working-class life compensates for these shortcomings. More »

PK
Film Review: PK

An alien trying to return home tangles with religious authorities in a low-key Bollywood message drama. More »

A Small Section
Film Review: A Small Section of the World

Worthy but uninvolving documentary about the coffee-producing women of Costa Rica. More »

Sagrada
Film Review: Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation

The fabulous 130-year work-in-progress that is Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral, as well as its crazy-brilliant originator, Antonio Gaudi, is the focus of this vividly informative documentary. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Selma review
Film Review: Selma

An impassioned lead performance and timely parallels to contemporary social issues enliven and elevate this otherwise somewhat routine biopic. More »

Into the Woods
Film Review: Into the Woods

Over-scaled, too dark and only intermittently charming Sondheim musical adaptation does a disservice to a great cast and is often so noisy you can't even appreciate the music. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here