Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: The January Sale!
Try 3 issues of Empire magazine for just £1
Must-Have Movie Collectibles
Bid on some classic memorabilia
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Emily Browning
.
Directors
Julia Leigh.
Screenwriters
Running Time
minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Zulu
3 Star Empire Rating
Two For The Road
3 Star Empire Rating
Thief
4 Star Empire Rating
Sirius
2 Star Empire Rating
Giver, The
2 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Duke of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Whiplash
5 Star Empire Rating
EMPIRE ESSAY: When Harry Met Sally
5 Star Empire Rating
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating

Sleeping Beauty
The feel-up film of the season


submit to reddit


Plot
Cash-strapped Australian student Lucy (Browning) begins working in the sex industry, graduating from waitressing in lingerie to submitting to men while drugged and asleep. Mysterious madam Clara (Blake) calls the shots.


Review
Sleeping Beauty
Browse more images »
When Mia Wasikowska dropped out of the lead role in Sleeping Beauty to film Jane Eyre, she may have been doing fellow Aussie Emily Browning a favour. Directed by newcomer Julia Leigh but presented by the iconic Jane Campion, this is an edgy, attention-grabbing drama the Sucker Punch actress handles admirably, even though her character rarely says a word. The story begins with mild vicarious thrills: Lucy (Browning) is plucked from her pokey flatshare, chauffeured to opulent mansions and paid handsomely just to waitress in skimpy designer gear. But we know something more disturbing awaits — not just from the title but from the suspenseful score, the sparse dialogue and the creepy composure of her elegant employer, Clara (Rachael Blake). Clad in figure-hugging power dresses and pouring drugged tea like an aristocrat, Clara is a femme fatale with a difference. She’s not seducing a man but recruiting a young woman: one who seems oddly okay with the idea of being drugged and touched up by dirty old men.

It’s here — if not before — that some audiences will turn up their noses in distaste. But if you can handle the creepiness it’s a poignant vision of fading male sexuality. These clients are mourning their own lost youth and virility, which fills some with anger and others sadness. Lucy, meanwhile, is strangely compliant. Are we supposed to believe that she enjoys selling her body? That being drugged is a convenient escape from responsibility? Or that this is her way of rebelling, of asserting a kind of power? Julia Leigh’s bold film offers no easy answers, leaving us to muse on Lucy’s motivations and the ethics of paying and being paid for a kinky sexual encounter.

It’s a mistake to call Sleeping Beauty “erotic” in a traditional sense — its view of sex is quite depressing. What is sensual is the patient camerawork that lingers on the beauty of everything it touches, from fabrics to faces — not least Browning’s, whose soulful eyes lend weight and allure to her character when the script holds back.

Narratively, this isn’t perfect: there’s a confusing subplot and some will find its cryptic style pretentious. But when it’s in its stride, it’s mesmerising. Those prepared to submit to Sleeping Beauty’s hypnotic flow will readily forgive its flaws.


Verdict
This will divide audiences as much as The Tree Of Life, but it’s a brave and beautiful calling card for both filmmaker and star. Drink it up, sit back and think of a very different Australia.


Reviewed by Anna Smith

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Sleeping Beauty
Empire Star Rating

Haunting but unsatisfying

Sleeping Beauty can easily be dismissed as art-house pretentiousness, and with good reason, but to be fair it also boasts an interesting premise and strong central performance from Emily Browning. However it doesn't really go anywhere , the pace is very slow, and it asks more questions than it gives any answers (the ending especially). Flawed but occassionally interesting, mostly due to Browning's performance. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 13:50, 16 June 2012 | Report This Post


Slightly Disappointing

Starts off great, with a consistently solid performance by Emily Browning, but around about half way through the film seems to feel....empty. A few too many mysterious metaphorical scenes which do not pay off in the long run. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Nate_001 at 09:14, 03 April 2012 | Report This Post


A GREAT CURE FOR INSOMNIACS......

...well they certainly got the sleeping part right. I watched this blasted film on FF last night and can honestly say that I didn't feel as though I'd missed a bloody thing. As a viewing experience, I can only describe it as a stultyfingly, boring exercise in torpid , slow burning cinematic narcolepsy. For voyeurs and fans of gratuitous, pre-pubescent school girl nudity only.... 1 STAR..... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 18:42, 01 March 2012 | Report This Post


Pretty good

It's weird, but not boring. Empire asks if we're supposed to believe she enjoys selling her body. It never crossed my mind that she likes it. To me it seems like she's emotionally scarred and doesn't really care what pain she causes to herself. Whether it's rent trouble or being sexually exploited. One thing I thought was weird was implying that she became a prostitute because of money troubles. She doesn't seem to care that she's suddenly making good money. She's also doesn't seem to ca... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by errol777 at 23:44, 25 February 2012 | Report This Post


A load of self-indulgent crap. It's boring and just weird, I couldn't even make it all the way through. The saving grace is Emily Browning, who puts in a good performance, just in the wrong film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Whistler at 23:47, 23 February 2012 | Report This Post



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Jessica Chastain Takes The IMDbunker
The Most Violent Year star takes our most random quiz

Five Impressive Oscar Isaac Roles You Didn't Realise Were Oscar Isaac
Welcome to Oscar season...

Johnny Depp And Paul Bettany Talk Mortdecai
How good is your 'Mortdecai face'?

Fables: A Primer
An introduction to Bill Willingham’s wonderfully dark fairy-tale world

12 Hitchcock Remakes Ranked From Best To Worst
Lifeboat in space, anyone?

From Mission: Impossible To Mortdecai: Writer/Director David Koepp Talks Screenwriting
What would you do if you were in charge of the Spider-Man franchise?

Ghost In The Shell: A Crash Course
Everything you need to know about Scarlett Johansson’s anime remake

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)