Top positive review
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a dark film about lust
on 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.