Drama Movies, by Ajay Singh, 25 August 2011

Director: Julia Leigh

Stars: Emily Browning, Rachael Blake, Ewen Leslie

Country: Australian

Runtime:

Release Date:

Language: English

Written and directed by Julia Leigh, making her cinema debut, this is the story of a young woman coming to terms with her sexuality.

Rachael Blake and Emily Browning in Sleeping Beauty

Rachael Blake and Emily Browning in Sleeping Beauty

Amongst other things. Starring Emily Browning, Rachel Blake and Ewan Leslie, it begins with Lucy (Browning) well behind on her rent, despite having several jobs. In desperation, she applies for yet another, a strange job which involves her being studied as she sleeps by several men, though she is assured that they will interfere with her sexually. One of her few friends in the world is a recovering alcoholic called Birdman, whom she turns to for support, eventually asking him to marry her, though for all the wrong reasons.

This is a very ambiguous piece of film making, deliberately disjointed, falling in and out of the various narrative strands, mirroring Lucy’s falling in and out of sleep. It’s minimalistic, reflecting a limited budget but as with all the best low budget movies, the script uses this to its advantage, creating an isolating and isolated world for Lucy. There is very little dialogue for a feature, and the musical score is equally minimalist, the director making great and effective use of long stretches of silence. The story is therefore conveyed largely visually and works very well like this. The overall impression created is that Lucy is almost sleepwalking through life, a passive protagonist at the whim of everyone who enters her closed off world.

The central theme is that of voyeurism. The men are paying to watch Lucy sleep, and it is strictly against the rules for there to be any physical contact, though of course, it’s bound to happen, in three revealing encounters with three very different men. Lucy comes across as a character with no self worth, no feelings of self assurance and is therefore easily exploitable. Emily Browning plays this waif extremely well with great subtlety and should be rewarded for her interpretation of very challenging material. Not mainstream by any means but thought provoking and haunting, food for the brain as well as the eyes.

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