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3.2 out of 5 stars
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3.2 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 July 2016
This is an unusual film, and one that will no doubt divide audiences. Some may consider it slow, uneventful and weird. Others may view it as daring, full of intrigue, and mesmerising. It possesses qualities which appeal to some, while off-putting to others. In this sense, I liken "Sleeping Beauty" to such movies as "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999) and "Nymphomaniac" (2013). This is a drama concerning a young woman's life - as she studies at university, engages in casual sexual liaisons, socialises with friends, and tries to earn a living. It's a character-driven storyline, with an underlying narrative focussed on sexualised exploitation.

Emily Browning takes lead role, as Lucy, who's struggling to pay her bills. She's offered well paid work as 'silver service' (waiting-on) for exceptionally wealthy individuals - wearing only lingerie. Given her obvious beauty, Lucy is offered further work - as a 'body' to be laid next to, by these wealthy people. She must undress, take a drug that makes her unconscious for several hours, and sleep in a bed. Meanwhile various men - on different nights - sleep alongside Lucy. They molest her naked body - abusing her - but are told to never actually engage in sex. Lucy never meets these men - she's asleep when they arrive, and they're gone when she awakens.

This employment pays well - and Lucy starts to enjoy life. But she's concerned by what goes on while she sleeps ... and so she decides to secretly film one of the sessions.

"Sleeping Beauty" is a well-made film, and is artistically brilliant. It has a distinctly Australian 'feel' to it (especially the sarcasm and humour). It's a complex film, with multiple layers, and it slowly gains pace - until its climactic finale. Personally, I am most impressed by this movie. On the one hand, it explores dark passions; and on the other, it examines the willingness to be abused in exchange for money. It's central theme is lust - how this manifests itself in contemporary society, and how it fails to achieve meaningful satisfaction.

If you're interested in films that present more questions than answers, and which engage with the foreboding aspects of sex, then I highly recommend this movie.
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on 13 May 2017
Hi there
I'm very happy with this item and it arrived on the day that was stated
many thanks
John
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on 7 November 2012
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.
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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.
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on 8 August 2013
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
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on 18 April 2015
A DVD for the very open minded. A particularly unusual story where a modern day Sleeping Beauty, played by Emily Browning, puts herself in serious danger in order to improve and survive her lifestyle. Visually creative and effective, some nudity. NOT a horror story as such with blood and guts, but a powerful story with a strong moral edge to it. Not for the faint hearted.
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on 25 June 2012
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.
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on 30 March 2014
This was another movie designed to showcase a now legal actress. The plot was slow but "artsy". The focus was very much on Emily browning, her acting and her body. Her emotions are very believable and you will feel you like her. No comment is probably needed regarding her body. She has a unique and desirable look. So fine showcase of Emily 5 stars. For plot by itself, 3 stars.
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on 2 August 2013
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.
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VINE VOICEon 21 January 2013
I think the description of this as vegemite (you'll love it or hate it) may be fair. Personally, I hated it.

The story is focussed on a young woman who is so alienated from her own body that she takes a job have tubes shoved down her throat for some kind of medical trials. From this she finds her way into a world of somnastic prostitution via lingerie clad silver service. The thing is, I know that Lucy is alienated from her body because I read the reviews and synopsis first. I wouldn't have inferred that from the film. I would have guessed she was just very hard up, listless and unhappy with a lack of self-respect (she also offers herself to various men in a way that suggests she just thinks she should rather than actually enjoying herself).

I didn't get a feel for any of the characters. Emily Browning does a very good job but the writing of her character just has too many holes. I know that was probably deliberate but it doesn't quite work. And some of the other actors (especially the old man who is a recurring client of her different services) are simply bad.

There are a lot of attempts to infer some deeper meaning from the various scenarios but these really all fail. The old man tells a lengthy story he read in a book given to him by his brother whilst Lucy lies asleep in the bed and I suppose that this is supposed to sum up the central dichotomy of something to do with not quite have sex with drugged women (penetration is not allowed for some reason) but it doesn't - it just means we have to listen to his tedious drone for a few seconds more.

There's quite a lot of sex mentioned so far and Emily Browning is a very attractive woman and is very naked in this film. And yet it is a curiously unsexy film. I think that is deliberate. What Lucy is doing should be seen as sad and dangerous not exciting and glamorous. It does mean though, that if Emily Browning naked is the main draw of this film then you've got the wrong film.

Perhaps I am being overly harsh by giving this a one star rating but I think that is because all the way through I had a strong sense that there was a good film in there trying to break out. It is always worse watching a film that could have been good as opposed to one that is just bad.
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