Lucy is a university student who is working a number of jobs. She volunteers at a research lab, works at a coffee shop, and as a photocopy clerk in an office. She responds to an advertisement and embarks on an erotic freelance job in which she is required to sleep in bed alongside paying customers. Written by
In over half a century of cinema-going, I've seen a (deliberately) wide range of movies, including some really strange and cryptic work, and I have to say that the Australian "Sleeping Beauty" falls firmly in the odd and opaque category. Coincidentally another film in the very unusual bracket is the similarly named "Sleeping Furiously" set in Wales. "Sleeping Beauty" is not quite as slow - although it is very measured indeed - but the obscure meaning of many scenes sets it apart. There is as much nudity as "Eyes Wide Shut" with which it bears (sorry for the pun) some comparison, but a much weaker storyline.
This is an adventurous selection for a first film from Julia Leigh who both directed and wrote this strange tale of a Sdyney student who is prepared to sell her body in a variety of circumstances in order to pay her bills. And it is a bold choice for Emily Browning who moves on from "Sucker Punch" to take the eponymous role, meaning that she is rarely off screen and has to appear totally nude. There is virtually no music and very little dialogue (especially from Browning) so there is an astonishing focus on her face - doll-like with high cheek bones and cupid lips - and her body - diminutive, pale and slight.
But this is far from being an erotic work; in fact, it is a depressing one. None of the characters elicits our sympathy or warmth and Browning's character Lucy seems to be sleep-walking and drugged when she is not actually sleeping and drugged.
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