Impeccably crafted and exquisitely disquieting, Sleeping Beauty heralds not only an exciting new filmmaking talent, but perhaps also Australian cinema’s next agent provocateur. This debut by novelist turned filmmaker Julia Leigh will undoubtedly prove a polarising affair. Her clinical command of the screen, coupled with the erotic subject matter may be deemed as pretentious by some and enthralling by others.
Emily Browning is beautifully opaque as Lucy, a financially strapped university student juggling menial jobs. She takes on a silver service waitressing job, which starts her down the path toward a much more radical form of ‘servitude.’ Rachael Blake and Ewen Leslie are both striking as Lucy’s employer and friend respectively; each playing out a different fantasy with Lucy curiously complicit.
Stripped of its Disney gloss, this Sleeping Beauty confronts with an austere and unforgiving voyeurism. But if Leigh errs in her rapid conclusion, then at least there’s no saccharine coda to dilute what is a truly jaw dropping debut.
4 ½ Stars
Australian release date: 23 June 2011
UK release date: 14 October 2011
US release date: 28 October 2011 (limited)
Sleeping Beauty from Pollen Digital on Vimeo.