Award-winning novelist Julia Leigh makes a hell of a directorial debut with her quiet fantasia, SLEEPING BEAUTY, the story of a young college student (Emily Browning) who becomes immersed in a strange world of desire when she signs on as employee of a service that drugs women and allows men — frequently much older — to do whatever they wish with the inert bodies (with the strict proviso that there be no penetration or damage).
Dark, provocative, erotic, the film inspires a multitude of responses, frequently within the same second of footage. And once you get past the tale’s elegant mise en scene and sensuous atmosphere, don’t be surprised to discover Leigh has posed some intriguing questions on love, death, and all the impulses that drive our species. Sex is 99% brain, after all.
Click on the link to hear my interview with Leigh at mightymoviepodcast.
What a bizarre film. I can’t say it was bad because there is something to the style in Leigh’s eye as a filmmaker that is intriguing. And I think she deserves credit for this. Sleeping Beauty definitely has the potential to be built upon and I hope that Leigh’s second film does go farther than she went here.
The film is sort of a cross between Michael Haneke and Catherine Breillat with a slight touch of Eyes Wide Shut. What that means, I don’t really know, but it’s clear that the director is going for something measured and thoughtful. The difficulty in watching the film is trying to decipher what that is. There’s a lot of surface stuff going on here, not the least of which is Julia Leigh’s direction, which is so self conscience that it gets in the way of evoking any depth or meaning.
Still, I would encourage people to watch this film and judge for themselves. I’m curious to see what Leigh does next.
I just watched it and pretty much agree with Santino in regard to the film, an intriguing piece of work and overall one of the more successful attempts to bring Kawabata’s short story “House of the Sleeping Beauties” to the screen. I’d be interested to hear some more thoughts by people here on the ambivalent ending of the film. And thanks for the interview link, I’ll soon check it out.