Sleeping Beauty (2011)
What parents need to know
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.
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.
Families can talk 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?