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Sleeping Beauty


Stars: Emily Browning, Rachael Blake, Ewen Leslie, Peter Carroll, Chris Haywood

Director: Julia Leigh (and script)

First, forget fairy tales – ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is grim, not Grimm.

The positive raves this pretentious tosh has received might well lead you to believe writer-director Julia Leigh’s debut film is some kind of masterpiece. Noted but not recently working director Jane Campion has added her approval with “JANE CAMPION PRESENTS …” over the title of a movie that aspires to arthouse status but for me simply comes across as conceited porn.

The film opens with Browning gagging when a doctor slides an inflatable balloon down her throat. After which I found myself gagging frequently as Australian varsity student Browning ("My mother is an alcoholic with a violent temper. She runs an astrology hotline.") pays her college bills by allowing herself to be drugged, stripped and then pawed by elderly men seeking sex.

Browning deserves some praise for keeping a straight face while topless and being sexually explored. However her impressive but increasingly blank-eyed performance does little to strip the sexual exploitation that appears – for all the half-baked psychology Leigh trots out in, I assume, an attempt to claim her film is not sexually exploitative but has emotional depth. Extremely unlikely.

Alan Frank

Australia 2010. UK Distributor: Revolver Entertainment. Colour.
101 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 3, Swearing 2.

Review date: 13 Oct 2011