An artsy-fartsy movie with Emily Browning (Lemony Snicket, Sucker Punch) naked almost all the time. These were my expectations when I played Sleeping Beauty late last night (or it was early morning :). All of these things were true, but somehow I didn’t get that sensual-sexual vibe that I was expecting. What eventually got was something else altogether, guilt. Guilt that I was pretty much the same as those jerks in this movie. Well, not that much same, but you know what I mean. I was looking to satisfy my sexual desires, even though they are pretty benign in comparison to Sleeping Beauty vibe.
Erotic thrillers slipped into the mainstream in the eighties after the initial seventies boom. Last Tango in Paris from 1972 comes to mind as one of the first big ones, although I am sure there are others. And if you’re wondering if this is something similar to Wild Things, Unfaithful or Original Sin, it is not. It’s much more similar to Jeune et Jolie or some of Lars von Trier’s movies. And if you’re looking for some other movies with similar subjects and vibes check out two classics The Reader and Bitter Moon. You can also continue with two really good mainstreamers Secretary and The Dreamers.
Lucy is a young girl with a pretty hectic lifestyle. She’s attending college, works as a waitress, and a copy-girl. And despite all that she manages to drink and do drugs. Kudos to you girl. Anywhoo, she needs a lot of cash just to survive and pay the rent. So she calls an ad in a student paper about a maid job. After being thoroughly examined by a couple of classy aristocrats, she finds out the true nature of her job. She is to serve dinner half-naked to some old English gentleman. Desperate for money she accepts and soon is drawn into a strange, perverse, and unforgiving world of high-class prostitution…
Generally, I don’t like and avoid these new-age, contemporary, artsy, on-the-edge, modern, or whatever you wanna call them movies. Usually, there is something behind the movie that annoys the hell out of me, and I find that quite boring and irritating. Sleeping Beauty made me feel uneasy, conflicted, and angry. And I finally figured out why the movie is called that. And I will leave this to discover for yourselves. This is all good, and it means that the director actually made a good movie, but let me take you through my stages of understanding this movie.
This is going to be quite good, naked ladies, realistic story, excellent camera – This is mostly the first half of the movie where I thought that this is going to be a borderline exploitation movie, but now there was a message about this lost girl and her desire to auto-destruct. Complete nihilism is a nice touch to an already good story
Oh shit, this is escalating, wait, what the hell is going on here? – This is mo(i)stly the second half of the movie where we are honored with young Miss Emily naked almost all the time, this is the time that I thought that the director and the scriptwriter used this movie to fulfill some of their fantasies (not to judge, but they are not pretty). I am still convinced that this is partially true, and this sickened me. I wanted to protect and save her…
Hmmm, maybe this is what they intended all along, all these feelings and everything else – This is about the time that I learned that the director and writer are the same woman Julia Leigh (there goes my man-hating argument), but again this is not true, since they were using the minimalist approach and practically left everything up to the viewer. Since we have to do all the heavy lifting I think that this is quite lazy of Julia Leigh.
The final opinion – This movie would be much better if it concentrated on just two stories: the struggle of a nihilistic young girl and the pretty perverse taste that rich people have. Instead, we get a whole mess of different shots and characters that, although fit in the story, are muddying the water and making this mess pretty difficult to untangle. And since we, the viewers have to do all the untangling it gets pretty irritating. Again it’s not the movie, it’s what you take from it (although this is the first time that I said this:)
Fun Facts: Before filming, director Julia Leigh told Emily Browning to watch Lars von Trier’s Antichrist and study Charlotte Gainsbourg’s performance. Also we have the opportunity to see the smallest penis ever to ever grace the big screen.