REVIEW: SLEEPING BEAUTY (2011)

 

CAST

Emily Browning (Sucker Punch)
Rachael Blake (Gods of Egypt)
Ewen Leslie (The Mule)
Michael Dorman (Triangle)
Eden Falk (The Great Gatsby)
Mirrah Foulkes (The Gift)
Joel Tobeck (Ash vs Evil Dead)

Lucy (Emily Browning) is a university student who holds a number of odd jobs: she volunteers as a test subject at the university medical research lab, works at a coffee shop, and makes photocopies at an office. Her roommates dislike her, and she spends her time visiting Birdmann (Ewen Leslie), who is attracted to her, but very respectful. Although she does not appear to return his affection, she appears to be happier when with him.

Lucy responds to an ad and is invited to meet Clara (Rachael Blake), who offers her a job: freelance silver service in lingerie. Lucy agrees, and Clara tells her that she will never be penetrated during these encounters. Clara and Thomas inspect her body. Clara says she will call Lucy by the name Sarah. Lucy gets beauty treatments before arriving for the event. She is the only girl dressed in white lingerie; the other women seem to be much older, wear severe makeup, and have black lingerie designed to reveal much more than to conceal. The event is a formal dinner party at an elegant home. Lucy serves drinks for the party and goes home with the money she made from it.

After one other session as a serving girl, Lucy gets a call from Clara’s assistant Thomas (Eden Falk) for a different request. Lucy is driven to a country mansion, where Clara offers Lucy a new role with the clients, wherein she will drink some tea and then fall into a deep sleep. Lucy is seen lying in a large bed, sedated, as Clara leads in the man who hosted the first dinner party. After Clara reminds the man of the no-penetration rule, he tells Clara about a book his brother gave him on his thirtieth birthday, and she leaves. He strips, caresses Lucy’s body, and cuddles up next to her.

Lucy is evicted from her apartment by her roommates. She instead rents a much more expensive apartment. After two more sleeping sessions at Clara’s house, Birdmann calls her. He has overdosed on painkillers, and she visits him as he dies. She takes off her shirt and gets in bed with him, sobbing but making no effort to help him. At Birdmann’s funeral service, Lucy asks a former acquaintance if he will marry her. Dumbfounded, he refuses, citing his new relationship, and several character flaws in Lucy.

Lucy is fired from her office job and buys a small, concealable camera. She takes drugs with a co-worker, goes night-swimming with him, and wakes up naked in her apartment with him. The next morning, she is hung over and late for her assignment with Clara. Once Lucy arrives, she asks Clara if she can see what happens during the sessions while she is asleep. Clara refuses, saying it will put her clients at risk of blackmail. Right after being placed on the bed for the session, however, Lucy awakes and removes the small camera which she had concealed in her mouth. She is able to set the camera and return to bed before being discovered. The client is once again the first man, but this time, he also drinks the tea with a much larger dose of the drug.

The morning after, Clara comes in and checks the man’s pulse, showing no surprise when he cannot be awakened. She then tries to wake Lucy but is at first unable to do so, eventually having to use mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Lucy awakes and, discovering that the naked man lying beside her is dead, screams. Throughout the whole film, Lucy was quiet, passive, and stoic, now when she sees the situation, she finally releases emotions—the sleeping beauty, now awake. The film ends with the scene captured by the camera that Lucy had installed: the dead old man and the sleeping girl both lying on the bed.

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

 

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