When everything is unexplained and ambiguous, Emily Browning's Lucy is so attractive and charming as a strange and cold young woman (who thinks) she's not scared of anything. How strange and mysterious she is, reminds me of Isabelle Huppert's Elle.
I was reminded to watch this after reading Yasunari Kamabata's "House of the Sleeping Beauties" which is about an old man that visits a brothel to lie with prostitutes already asleep. While Kamabata explored the haunting loneliness of men bumbling through life as they (try to) make sense of pleasure, novelist/director Julia Leigh's worldview is more nihilistic. Her heroine Lucy merely uses and is happy to be used.
What Secretary has that makes fetichism playful and comical, in its cinematic portrayal, Slepping Beauty has in sordid melancholy and fatalist somberness. For every sleeping beauty there's a lewd beast, wide awake. And even a masochist can interact. That's why Secretary can allow itself to be fun. How consenting can a inconscient adult be? Even (or especially) if you paid them to act inconscient.
Props are tight, killer concept, good intention but a terrible film. Julia Leight has a great view but the scenes on film are not linked. Narrative is poor and hides in front of a good concept - the unspoken and unseen scam. The images are not connotative as they supposed to.
I didn't care for the film at first, but I continue to come back to it again and again. It has a slow and serious tone but also feels mysterious and distantly menacing. There is an intense, uncomfortable lack of inherent sensuality in the lead, while the photography is stunning and engaging. The ideas and conflicts at play here are huge but show up as a single, razor-thin line.
I was not very impressed halfway through but boy was I wrong. Sleeping Beauty is one of those films in which every frame deserves to be closely looked at and analyzed. Not only because it looks so good, but also because there is so much going on at all times. Just when you're ready to shake Lucy and make her feel you have a powerful realization of whats been going on underneath the surface.
The image was wonderful, immaculate and cold. Otherwise, it is a tepid and meaningless foray into muffled emotions and vainglorious eroticism. Debut or not, this film is self-important when it was hoped to be poignant and fresh. It was Pasolini without fury, Haneke without relevance, and Breillat without heart. Sure, it was stark and a little controversial - but does that equate meaning?
i found it to be quite good, the plot holes and underdeveloped characters seem completely deliberate, i thought of george bataille the whole time. i thought of it as a completely literary movie, it has that book quality to it. it was not exploitative,i actually thought it was executed with a lot of class. and definitely not boring. id like very much to read the script.