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Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty
Film Format: 
Leigh, Julia
Emily Browning
Rachael Blake
Film Reviews: 

First-time filmmaker Julia Leigh, the author of two novels, The Hunter and Disquiet, secured an influential backer for Sleeping Beauty in the person of Jane Campion, who mentored Leigh based on her screenplay. Like Campion’s films, Sleeping Beauty centres on that fairytale figure of femininity: the literally or figuratively unconscious girl, hovering on the brink of self- and sexual awareness. Campion’s protagonists – such as Ada in The Piano (1993) or Ruth in Holy Smoke (1999) – achieve epiphanic awakenings through sexual self-expression. Leigh’s protagonist Lucy – who takes a job as a ‘sleeping beauty’, drugged asleep while male clients spend the night with her – fulfils male characters’ fantasies by voluntarily entering into a physical unconsciousness that mirrors, and intensifies, her numb drift through university and part-time employment…Leigh’s novels are celebrated for their spare and intimate exploration of characters who appear as blank as Lucy but are internally roiling with obsession and loss. Sleeping Beauty aspires to create a similarly haunted disconnect between Lucy’s presentation and her subjectivity. Yet Leigh isn’t able to muster a cinematic equivalent of a first-person narration that would convey Lucy’s interiority to the viewer, not least because Lucy is isolated, inarticulate, arch and frequently asleep. Despite scenes where we watch Lucy while she’s alone, or hear only her side of phone conversations, we as viewers have no privileged insight into her motivations or reactions.[Sight and Sound]

Date Arrival: 
27 February 2012

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