Sleeping Beauty – 2011 [ 3 stars ]

THE FILM:
Sleeping Beauty, directed by Julia Leigh, is the story of university student Lucy (Emily Browning) who willingly takes employment in an erotic filled establishment.  The film follows her physical and mental search for understanding of the establishment and her boundaries; through her interactions with other willing participants, actress Rachael Blake, actors Peter Carroll and Chris Haywood.

THE PERFORMANCES:
The standout performance of the film is from Emily Browning, who immerses herself in a character that is completely willing, yet still requires answers to fulfil and justify her desires.

Browning, handles quite confronting scenes with a tenderness and fragility that draws the viewer in.  She has a porcelain-like face, her movements are often slow, and delicate, although one feels at anymore she is going to alter her mindset and run out of frame. 
It is easily understood why those participating in the erotic processes in the film are drawn to Browning’s character, because she manages to portray the willingness and sexual desire needed to divert this film from potentially being quite explicit and off-putting, to more of a sensual seedy drama.

Of all the supporting performances in the film, it is the performance of actor Peter Carroll as Man #1, a client who becomes drawn to Browning, that is the most impressive. At no stage did I feel that his character was taking advantage of, or unfairly treating Browning’s character.  Infact, Carroll’s character himself reflects much of Browning’s fragility. Yet the performances in anyone else hands could have delivered a confronting disturbing character the would have proved unsettling.
Long after the film has finished, I am still drawn to Carroll’s performance.  He delivers his moments on screen in a tender way, his mannerisms and his look seemed reassuring.

THE VERDICT: 
Sleeping Beauty will not be everyones cup of tea.   It is a film that is confronting, but in no way ever oversteps its mark. 
Every scene purposely invites you further in, without ever racing ahead, or languishing behind.   I constantly felt intrigued as to the direction of the characters and their source of motivation, and never once felt the film, or its performances were crude or inappropriate.
It was common for me to think back to another film about desire:  ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ , only because the atmosphere, the look and the slow deliberate performances in some scenes reminded me of Kubrick’s film (which I also liked).

Sleeping Beauty, may in its current state, be labelled as a film that is disturbing, or at the very least inappropriate.  But I hope in future screenings for viewers, they accept that it is a tremendously well-crafted film, that never means to offend, but rather offers the understanding that all ages have desires for all other ages. 

It would be disappointing if viewers do not see this film based on restrictions they place upon themselves regarding cinema content.
Sleeping Beauty is an atmospheric gem which intrigues and delivers in almost every scene. 

Highly recommend:   Score:  B+ 

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