Review of Sleeping Beauty

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A haunting portrait of Lucy, a young university student drawn into a mysterious hidden world of unspoken desires.
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Movie Review: "Sleeping Beauty"

--Rating: NR
Length: 101 minutes
Release Date: December 2, 2011
Directed By: Julia Leigh
Genre: Drama

When one hears the name "Sleeping Beauty," it usually takes you back to your childhood and reminds you of the Disney animated feature by the same name. However, the 2011 film starring Emily Browning as Lucy is nothing like its predecessor at all. In fact, as with many remakes, the name gives the impression that it is a film with a similar plot and characters. This is far from the truth with this film. Instead, it is based on the novel "The House of the Sleeping Beauties" by Yasunari Kawabata.

"Sleeping Beauty" is the debut work of director Julia Leigh. Lucy is a college student who takes on a wide variety of odd jobs to make money. The movie begins with her in a research laboratory performing experimental research by swallowing a balloon. She also works in a coffee shop and in an office as a copy girl.

She has a running relationship with a man who is only known as Birdman. It is clearly obvious that he has stronger feelings for her than she does for him, but she does seem to be happiest when she is with him. For her the relationship is more of a close friendship than a romantic relationship.

Lucy responds to another job advertisement that requires her to perform silver service duties as a hostess. The assistant explains that she will dress in lingerie but will not have to have a relationship with anyone. The job pays extremely well, and because she needs the money, she agrees to the conditions and begins the job. Her first assignment is at a dinner party with several older gentlemen and one lady. It is apparent that the other girls she works with have more experience than she does. They are wearing more revealing clothing and heavier makeup. One of the guests trips Lucy on purpose and she leaves the party while the event turns into a more intimate party for the other girls.

She receives a call from the assistant asking her to take part in a special assignment, which Lucy agrees to. She is driven to a large mansion and is sedated. One of the gentlemen from the original party is intimate with Lucy and then cuddles with her on the bed.

The job seems to change Lucy and this affects her personal life. Birdman asks Lucy to marry him and she agrees. The proposal doesn't appear to be a serious proposal but the two progressively get closer as the film moves forward. Birdman has been trying to detox from drugs but finds it impossible. He calls Lucy and tells her that he has overdosed. As she gets to him, she climbs in bed with him and he dies.

Lucy then gets into a heated argument with her landlord and is evicted. So she looks for another place to live and finds a much more expensive apartment that she leases without seeing.

Lucy tries to find another man to offer her the close relationship she had with Birdman. She asks a man she had been intimate with but he turns her down due to the fact that he had many failed relationships in the past. Her relationships seem to spiral downhill and Lucy begins to feel guilt about the job she is doing as a hostess.

She accepts several other jobs at the mansion before asking the assistant to record it so she can see what happens to her while she is sedated. The assistant tells her that this is not possible. So Lucy decides to purchase a camera and hide it.
Lucy has yet another detached relationship with a man she works with. They spend the night together drinking, and she wakes up the next morning late for her job with the silver service. A car is waiting for her. She hides her camera in her mouth, and once in the room, she removes it and places it on the bed next to her.
The man in the room decides to sedate himself too and overdoses. She wakes up from the sedation with lying naked next to the man's dead body.

Lucy seems quite detached throughout the whole film. She never seems to show much emotion, even when Birdman dies. "Sleeping Beauty" is far from the fairytale of the original film, and instead focuses on themes of desire and lust.