Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty
Emily Browning, Ewen Leslie, Rachael Blake and Peter Carroll

Rated: No rating 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: December 2, 2011 Released by: IFC Films

A feeling of aloof iniquity for the most part makes this adult parable dreamlike through a lustful, lustrous insinuating cinematic exploration.
Julia Leigh's Sleeping Beauty (not to be confused with anything related to what the House That Mouse Built crafted) doesn't rely much on narrative exposition while getting more from her actors, especially the lead, as played by Emily Browning (less of a pawn than in the turgid, snazzy CGI spectacle Sucker Punch). The Australian auteur provides an experimental, minimalistic (notably in line readings) touch that may have curious onlookers finding it more vacuous than perceptual (like David Lynch's mesmerizing Mulholland Drive) in perhaps drawing from a film of the same name by the more accomplished, French helmer Catherine Breillat.
Browning, now a young adult (after those who remember her from pictures like Lemony Snicket), still manages to convey something of depth from this approach as Lucy, a curt collegiate who has spread herself thin while tending to a baleful, sick fellow called Birdmann (Ewen Leslie). When the sleep-deprived gal passes muster as a private-party person (specializing in lingerie) for her new employer (Rachael Blake), she is molded (ways that may have some taken aback) to the eponymous position that a rich client must obey while she is "lightly" unconscious.
One of the clients, played by Peter Carroll, stands out more for a brooding tenderness than the others, as Leigh goes a bit beyond an introduction, but little more. The model virgin (though far from it) in a rather brusque, numbingly content Lucy may fit the layered vulnerability Browning expresses (through carnal and feminine issues), though scenes with Leslie have a more palpable warmth to them.
Many may want to snap Lucy out of what looks like a strange, somnolent, depraved fairy tale even before what comes across as an impetuous wrap-up. This journey with Lucy may be too perverted and awkwardly erotic, but noteworthy for what Browning brings to a character who must be wondering what occurs while she's sleeping.

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