I usually don’t care for indie, artsy films with an “underlying message”. Give me fluff and fun any day.
So it was unusual for me to want to see Sleeping Beauty, the latest Cannes Film Festival effort by Julia Leigh, starring Sucker Punch’s Emily Browning.
Let’s just say I should have left well enough alone and left it to the creative/hipster Nova Carlton crew to nod understandingly along with the quiet and confronting scenes, while I scoffed at the pretension and a group of girls up the front laughed at the copious amounts of nudity.
This was something I took issue with. Normally, nudity doesn’t bother me so long as it’s not gratuitous and lends itself to the story. Browning’s naked body in almost every scene was an integral part of the story when she becomes the titular “sleeping beauty”. However, she also slept naked, went topless at the request of her dying friend, and basically hung around in her natural state. Which is all well and good if this were real life, but the stunted acting and unrealistic dialogue made it clear that the storyline certainly wasn’t realistic. I counted nine instances of Browning’s nudity, not to mention the bondage party at the beginning of the film, which introduces Browning’s character, Lucy, to the underground perversion club she’ll now be working for, and the three old man peens who try to have their wicked and disturbing way with Lucy. But, as madam of the House of Sleeping Beauties, a novella by Nobel prize-winning author Yasunari Kawabata on which Sleeping Beauty is allegedly based, says, “there will be no penetration”. That’s comforting, then!
While I felt that at some point during the movie, Browning’s nudity went from being artistic to exploitative, the same could be said for the men of the movie. Only the older patrons of madam Clara were seen in all their glory, which didn’t take away from Leigh’s commentary on the youth and beauty of Lucy, but was perhaps an effort to objectify the men who objectify Lucy.
*It has come to my attention that I give away too much in my movie reviews, so the asterisk will now serve as a blanket *spoiler alert* from now on.
Image via IMDb.