EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|SLEEPING BEAUTY (director/writer: Julia Leigh; cinematographer: Geoffrey Simpson; editor: Nick Meyers; music: Ben Frost; cast: Emily Browning (Lucy), Rachael Blake (Clara), Ewen Leslie (Birdmann), Peter Carroll (Man 1), Chris Haywood (Man 2); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jessica Brentnall; IFC Films; 2011-Australia)|
in the mud as a sicko exploitation pic."
by Dennis Schwartz
critically acclaimed Australian film by a Jane Campion
approved novelist turned writer and director,
Julia Leigh, wallows in the mud as a sicko
exploitation pic, one that is revolting
and has little to say about feminist issues it
pretends to be concerned about. I found the
filmmaker's arty treatment of an impoverished dullard
college coed, Lucy (Emily Browning, former child
actress), finding a supplemental job to her daytime
jobs as a guinea pig for test tube experiments in
medical research and a tedious photocopier
office job by taking on nighttime exploitation work
through answering her college newspaper ad, whereby
she is paid handsomely to be drugged into being
comatose overnight in a country mansion brothel run by
the regal businesslike madame Clara (Rachael Blake).
The oily old men clients, with sexual liabilities,
sleep with her corpse-like body and roughly, for the
most part, fondle her, but according to brothel rules
can't penetrate her. Lucy goes human by showing
affection for her platonic dying alcoholic friend Birdmann (Ewen Leslie), whom she regularly
visits and gives him needed cuddles.
baffling to see where the film-maker was going with
such a degrading and tiresome premise. The child
actress should hold out for better parts, because
being in films like this one and her prior Sucker
Punch, could be career closers. It was hard to care
about Lucy, as she's abrasive, flighty and poorly
sketched. I have no idea what makes her take such a
risky job, and when she asks what goes on while she
sleeps the malevolent madame tells her she can't know
because the clients would fear blackmail. The
low-concept movie might have seemed to have
possibilities as a working idea, but as a film it
doesn't have any juice to justify its ugliness. Though
I must say some critics have compared it to Luis Buñuel’s
‘Belle de Jour’ (1967), something I don't see. But if
you get past how perverse and tiresome it is, I
suppose you give it credit for trying to offer more
than cheap thrills, But I just can't figure out what
that allegorical more is.
REVIEWED ON 5/26/2013 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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