5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Arty but good
A "quietly reckless" university student joins a service that offers its clients alternative kinky experiences. Eventually she takes on the job of sleeping while the clients spend time with her.
It's a very curious Australian art film that tells its "story" in an unconventional, deliberately flat and stately way. Do not expect dramatic fireworks or even much...
Published 17 months ago by BS on parade
37 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Prententious and Disappointing
Having read great reviews for this movie and watched the trailer, I was looking forward to watching this movie very much so.
However, not only was it ridiculously pretentious (normally a pretentious movie doesn't annoy me so much, but this was really pushing it), and it wasn't that I didn't understand the plot or the movie, there was no substance to it...
Published 22 months ago by autumnwinters
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Arty but good,
This review is from: Sleeping Beauty [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)A "quietly reckless" university student joins a service that offers its clients alternative kinky experiences. Eventually she takes on the job of sleeping while the clients spend time with her.
It's a very curious Australian art film that tells its "story" in an unconventional, deliberately flat and stately way. Do not expect dramatic fireworks or even much of a plot. Think Eyes Wide Shut directed by David Lynch. And if you're only watching it for sexual kicks then I recommend using your imagination with the Google search box instead. The movie is a little dirty, and it earns its eighteen certificate, but it's not a parade of top quality filth. It's probably also worth pointing out that it was written and directed by a woman so it's more erotic stories than perving at lingerie models.
Although the pace is a little slow I trusted that it was going somewhere interesting so I had zero problems that it wasn't zipping along. And I say this as someone with little patience for slow paced movies and even less for slow art movies. For me to find it compelling is against the odds of past experience.
There are a lot of oblique, obscure and unexplained moments and scenes throughout the whole film. I thought the blanks were easy to fill in for myself. And I don't believe the makers have definitive answers or explanations anyway as to why or what had happened. Whatever I decided for myself was the right answer. It might frustrate people who want everything spelled out and explained. I'm sure there are more than a few viewers who are totally mystified by the Birdman relationship.*
Visually the movie is a little bland as it was mostly shot in masters only. This means that whole scenes were filmed in one fairly static unbroken long shot without any editing. Which was okay and never boring, although the film wouldn't have been any less arty if they had done a bit more cutting between shots to make it more visually enjoyable.
***SPOILER IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH***
The "plot" of her becoming assertive and trying to find out what was happening to her when asleep only turned up in the last ten minutes. It had an undramatic and mundane ending to that section. And for the whole movie as it ended there, even though the story hadn't really reached a climax or a destination. Unless her at last feeling an emotion that broke through her reserve can be considered the climax to all that had gone before? To me the story hadn't ended and the movie should have continued.
I would say it was a very good art film though it could have been better if it had a bit more conventional drama to it and a better ending. I really liked the film while watching it but the fairly pointless, indifferent and inconclusive climax was unfortunate, and makes me think less of it overall.
The title is terrible as it's already been claimed. All they've done is made the movie harder to find as it will forever be lost behind the Disney film.
Also don't be put off by the Jane "The Piano" Campion connections like I was. Her name is on the advertising but I couldn't find her on the credits so she doesn't seem to have any substantial connection to the movie itself.
* My explanation is that she truly loved him, even though he was a clapped out sickly alcoholic. And that is all there is to it. Nothing more complicated than that. And the various things they said to each other were just jokes.
76 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vegemite,
This review is from: Sleeping Beauty [DVD] (DVD)Sleeping Beauty is Vegemite - an Australian film which will you will either love or hate.
Emily Browning stars as Lucy, aka Sara, a student of loose morals who juggles various jobs and takes on a role doing silver service whilst wearing lingerie. She also juggles various men. Lucy, aka Sara, is told that she will be working with other women, some of whom will have more responsibilities. In time, Lucy, aka Sara, also takes on new responsibilities - specifically taking a narcotic dose and sleeping naked for the pleasure of old men. It's beautifully shot, with near still camera angles, long periods of silence and very creepy undertones. Then by day, Lucy, aka Sara, goes back to university and sits in lectures, awaiting phone calls to spring her into action.
Meanwhile, Lucy does her best to maintain normal relations with her housemates and her various men. Unsuccessfully.
Emily Browning puts in a stellar performance, not least as she plays unconscious whilst being carried about the room and half dropped off a bed. She manages to convince in a very difficult role, blending innocence with moral depravity without ever seeming conflicted.
The premise sounds erotic but, with the exception of one early scene featuring coin tossing, the performance is absolutely deadpan and devoid of all emotion. There is nudity, but it is sterile. Everything feels suppressed. The ending, when it comes, is ambiguous and deflating.
For my money, Sleeping Beauty is a future classic - unashamedly art-house and very heavily stylized. And, as some Australian newspapers have noted, it is an Australian film which doesn't play on its provenance. For much of the film, the action might as well be in a French chateau - referenced by a bed with a bolster rather than pillows. The accents are Australian but the location could be anywhere.
On the other hand, I should say that my wife thought the film was pretentious, boring and pointless.
Looking at other review websites, it seems that opinion is split pretty evenly. But few people seem to think the film is average - it's a love it or hate it divide.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dreamlike film about death and desire,
This review is from: Sleeping Beauty [DVD] (DVD)Firstly, as mentioned in other reviews - it's a love or hate film. Cold and frustrating for some, but deep and thought provoking for others. A personal vision for it's writer/director which touches subtly and intimately on grand themes such as death, desire, curiosity, emptiness and the long dark night of the soul.
The core of the film is Lucy, a young girl in her quest of survival both financially and emotionally. Menial job, unstable living situation and relationships - common indie film subjects. But as curious Lucy applies for a strange, dangerous, erotic job, both she and the film then take a turn into a darker underworld. The film then becomes more dreamlike, jet lagged even as the underlying themes become more relevant than the actual events themselves. The jigsaw piece style of narrative is handled very well in my opinion.
It beats to it's own heart but the films it reminded me of most were 'Story of O', 'Mulholland Drive', 'Celine and Julie go boating' 'Picnic at hanging rock' and Michael Haneke's 'Hidden'. Unusually European flavour for an Australian film. Delicate and haunting but not everyone's cup of tea/mysterious white powder bedtime beverage.
37 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Prententious and Disappointing,
This review is from: Sleeping Beauty [DVD] (DVD)Having read great reviews for this movie and watched the trailer, I was looking forward to watching this movie very much so.
However, not only was it ridiculously pretentious (normally a pretentious movie doesn't annoy me so much, but this was really pushing it), and it wasn't that I didn't understand the plot or the movie, there was no substance to it whatsoever. So it didn't even earn the right to be truly pretentious. It tries to be shocking with its themes of sexuality, with lines such as 'your vagina will be treated like a temple', and scenes such as those where Lucy is made to match her lipstick colour to her labia. However, they are unconvincing and almost comical in their eagerness to shock, but they are placed without either reason or relevance. I am a fan of films such as 'Belle de Jour', so it is not at all the case that I find such films uncomfortable or uncouth, Sleeping Beauty's sexual themes were just really boring.
The acting was terrible. I have watched several of the actors in other movies, where they really have been good, and so it was odd that they should fail for this one. Although I suppose that for a film with no character substance, depth or development, it can be quite hard to be convincing.
The movie goes into pointless subplots, such as Lucy's friendship with Birdie. Nothing is explained or developed in them, they just waste time and are equally dull.
I think the worst part of the film though was the fact that it genuinely had such potential. The main ideas behind it, the declining male sexual ego, the young, beautiful student unable to discover what happens to herself... it could have been a masterpiece. However, they have been so badly put together, the result is a sloppy mess, I don't understand why the director is so eager to slap her name all over it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars for intelligent viewers only??,
This review is from: Sleeping Beauty [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)One of the reviewers said this was a film for intelligent viewers. I think I'm pretty intelligent but this lost me about half way through.
This film is desperately trying to be intellectual and I think it fails pretty miserably. After watching the interview with the director I felt even more confused. She seems to have made a film which differs to her own perspective on the events.I found it poor on the depth of characterisation and whilst I didn't want everything spelled out for me the film felt incredibly disjointed. The lead actress was good at what she had to do and pretty to look at but there is little or nothing to really explain what her motivations were. Not money, not companionship - she just seemed to go with the flow and accept whatever came her way - very Zen I suppose, but I still didn't get her at all. Anyway, suffice it to say I didn't like it. Very cold and very detached.
2.0 out of 5 stars Unfulfilled promise,
This review is from: Sleeping Beauty [DVD] (DVD)I really thought this would be my sort of film , it has all the right ingredients, but it feels like a film students arty project rather than a professional effort. It drifts along dreamily , nothing wrong with that at all ,I like slow European and / or Art films. But this feels like an unfinished first edit. There are so many unresolved issues. And Lucy , however well acted , is not simply a rather unattractive character (and an alcoholic in denial), she's actually worse than unpleasant - she's self-centered, she's selfish but mainly....she's boring!
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual,
This review is from: Sleeping Beauty [DVD] (DVD)Interesting in some parts maybe hard to understand, strong storyline it's gonna make you have to think
Overall: ok, if you understand it
5.0 out of 5 stars a revolutionary film,
This review is from: Sleeping Beauty [DVD] (DVD)To make a film causing such outrage and blank dumb rejection took a lot of courage. Here is a film with no explicit hyper fantasised pornographic sex, no gratuitous artificial gory noisy violence, but censored in France and many other countries for showing what we all know :failing sexuality in aging men and the typical student apathy of the 20 year old when the realisation that the idealised study of higher mathematics is useless in a commercialised capitalist market based reality. Lucy copes by testing herself and her body. Birdmann does not.
Julia Leigh tells this story in visual images and a verbal narrative loaded with subtext.
Lucy's character is developed in subtle scenes and timed fade outs. The viewer is forced to experience this film as a dream or nightmare and some can't see it through.
But many others realise that this film needs study and repeated viewing to appreciate the tiny details and literary references to the Japanese and Perrault fairy tale sources.
This is about the most anti-Hollywood film you could ever see but the technical daring in pace, sound design ,colour palette , unemotional acting style , one- take scene framing and extensive use of anti-erotic nudity is breathtaking.
There is also wry humour and a devastatingly accurate portrait of mundane modern university and student odd job life, contrasted with the fantasy world of the Sleeping Beauty Chamber.
Amazing work by all concerned, especially the tour de force of Emily Browning (in every scene), Rachael Blake , Peter Carrol and Chris Haywood
3.0 out of 5 stars A Film Not for Everyone.,
This review is from: Sleeping Beauty [DVD] (DVD)This is an Australian-made film based on a young university student becoming involved with middle-aged men without her knowledge! This attractive young lady needs to improve the circumstances under which she is living while attending university. She therefore answers an advertisement and is accepted by the lady-in-charge as someone who can take on the position that she has in mind. This will enable the lass to improve her living stardard as the fairly large amounts of cash paid to her come in handy.
The young lady is told to swallow a drink which puts her in a state of deep sleep in a double bed while she is naked. I shall let the reader make presumptions from there. She is unaware of what happens to her when she is asleep.
I was particularly upset at the way that some of these men treat her. Hopefully almost all older men do not treat women so disgustingly!
This is a film which in many ways is interesting. It is well acted by Emily Browning.and by the lady who plays the part as her boss.
However, it is the type of film that not everyone will appreciate.
1.0 out of 5 stars boring,
This review is from: Sleeping Beauty [DVD] (DVD)i would have had more fun watching paint dry. this film was beyond boring. no plot and very little dialogue
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Sleeping Beauty [DVD] by Julia Leigh (DVD - 2012)
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