Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Sleeping Beauty (2011) Movie Poster Image
Creepy erotic drama about sedated girls has little meaning.
  • NR
  • 2011
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

If this movie about an aimless college student who gets paid to take drugs that put her to sleep while old men caress her can be said to have a message, it's that you shouldn't sleep through life -- be awake, be aware, and make choices that steer you in the direction you want, rather than letting others set your course.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lucy is sleepwalking through her life, unsure what to do with herself, and drifts into a weird job where she takes a strong sedative that puts her to sleep for hours while men pay to fondle her nude body. She's unaware of what goes on while she's asleep and doesn't seem to care much about where her life is going.


One scene features an old man aggressively manhandling a nude, sedated young woman. Though he doesn't actually strike her, his domineering demeanor suggests that he's quite excited to be in complete control.


Sexual themes pervade the film. Extensive nudity, with both men and women seen completely naked. Lucy takes a job in which she wears lingerie while serving meals at private dinner parties, surrounded by other women who are wearing much less. Later, she agrees to take a drug that puts her to sleep for hours so that older men can fondle her limp, undressed body. Though there are plenty of discussions about sex and a few graphic conversations, very little actually happens onscreen. Still, it's clear what's going on, and most of the movie focuses on sexuality.


Some swearing, including "f--k," "bitch," "whore," "c--k," and "a--hole."


Some consumer products are visible, including Lexus cars and Mac computers. The clients in the film are all old, wealthy men who seem accustomed to being able to buy whatever they want.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A key part of the film is Lucy's willingness to take a drug that leaves her completely sedated for hours so that old men can indulge their fantasies. She's also willing, often eager, to partake in casual drug use, including cocaine. A few scenes feature people drinking wine and brandy at dinner parties, as well as stronger drinks at bars or while socializing with friends.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this creepy erotic drama is heavy on nudity but short on meaning. A college student becomes involved in an unusual type of escort service: She's paid to take a drug that puts her to sleep for hours while wealthy old men fondle her nude body (though they're prohibited from actually having sex with her). Besides the sleeping potion, there's also recreational drug use and drinking, plus a fair bit of swearing (including "f--k," "c--k," and more). The film is charged throughout with sexuality -- including full-frontal nude scenes featuring both men and women -- but no actual on-screen simulated sex.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Kid, 12 years old January 4, 2012

Don't bother.

I know someone who's watched it and said it was rubbish. Too much nudity and it's gross the way old men pay to look at nude women and touch them. The... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old June 9, 2012

My Mother said it was..............

My mother said it was ridiculous, she said there was way to much sex and it was a total waste of her time and money!!! >:(

What's the story?

Lucy (Emily Browning) is a cash-strapped college student who takes a job in which she serves meals at private dinner parties while dressed in lingerie. She soon becomes a quasi-prostitute, with a twist: She takes a strong drug that puts her to sleep for hours while wealthy old men are allowed to fondle her nude body (they're prohibited from actually having sex). Clara (Rachael Blake), the madam who arranges Lucy's encounters and administers the sleeping potion, tells her that "no penetration" is the most important rule. Soon Lucy begins to wonder what's really happening to her while she's asleep.

Is it any good?

Screenwriter and first-time director Julia Leigh is clearly going for an art-house experience in SLEEPING BEAUTY. Lucy seems to be sleepwalking through her life, taking a series of dead-end jobs (an office drone, a waitress, a volunteer for campus medical experiments) but not actually living. Searching for sensation, she's game for casual drug use and no-strings-attached sex, but otherwise it's hard to tell anything about this blank slate of a character.

The film is trying to make a statement about choosing to live life vs. choosing to check out and just go through the motions. Problem is, the message is pretty obvious, while the film is tedious and dull. It's got plenty of nudity and disturbing sex scenes (Lucy lies still, inert, while others fondle her). And by making Lucy so passive, both awake and asleep, there's nothing that makes her interesting to viewers. Will she discover the joy in life? Will she actually become involved in a real relationship? We don't know, and, because of the lack of storytelling, we don't much care.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Sleeping Beauty portrays sex and sexuality. Is it treated as a product/commodity? What are the dangers of that perspective? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • By focusing on characters who literally sleep through significant encounters, what is this movie trying to say about life?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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