Sleeping Beauty – Review (Spoiler Free)

Sleeping Beauty Movie PosterSleeping Beauty is at times very simplistic, exploitative, and pretentious, and there’s very little to redeem it except Emily Browning’s fearless performance. Browning plays a student who takes several different jobs in and around her studies. These range from being a research subject for a medical lab, to working in a coffee shop. Then she answers an ad and ultimately winds up as a Sleeping Beauty; a role which requires her to be sedated and lying in a bed so that old men can have an erotic experience with her, the only rule being no penetration.

As the movie goes on it does, to an extent, conjure up an air of mystery and suspense, but by the time Browning’s character (Lucy) starts to question what goes on whilst she is drugged, we have already lost interest in the film. It’s very aggravating because there could have been a great film here; one which actually explored the protagonist in some depth, that intelligently investigated the sex industry, and that didn’t fill it’s very slow paced running time with meaningless dialogue.

Aside from its bad writing though, my big problem with this film is its voyeurism. Its artful presentation attempts to, but ultimately fails at hiding the fact that the female body here is being exploited for its audience. Browning is often nude, or semi-nude throughout the film, and if there had been more substance to Sleeping Beauty then perhaps this could be justified, but as it is the nudity comes across as intending to shock us, rather than it being used to make anything that remotely resembles a challenging question or statement. It’s all posturing here, there’s nothing to back up its apparent claims for artiness. I will say though that the film does look good, and feels polished enough that it’s something of a surprise that it was Leigh’s debut. But it is just that, and Browning’s bravery, which is worthy of note. It is my recommendation to avoid this one.


  1. I remember reading a review of this when it came out. Doesn’t sound like my kind of movie, I’ll skip it. Nice review.

    1. Thanks, and yeah be sure to give this one a miss. It was a disappointment to say the least 😦

  2. Yeah, this is definitely a movie I’m going to skip for now. You’re right though, it’s very pretentious at times.

    1. I don’t mind the odd bit of pretension from time to time, but when a film is this vapid then it very quickly becomes unbearable.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I hate movies that show nudity just because they can. I don’t mind nudity in film, it just needs to be justified. Which, it appears this one does not feature that. Thanks for the warning, I nearly watched this the other day.

    1. Your welcome, I’m happy to point you away from this one.
      I feel bad for Browning, she was clearly committed to telling this story and it’s a shame that the end product came out so weak.

  4. I’m sold. I’ll be skipping this sucker. Thanks for the heads up!

  5. In sold. I’ll be skipping this sucker. Thanks for the heads up!

    1. No problem! I’m glad that the pain and boredom I went through whilst seeing this is of use in preventing others from experiencing it too 😀

  6. Natalie P · · Reply

    I almost watched this film too, I’m kind of glad I didn’t waste my time on it now!

    1. It’s a very good thing that you passed on this one Natalie! I’m confident that you wouldn’t have enjoyed it.

  7. I saw this movie and thought the initial premise was interesting. It did get creepy as the film went on though. I eventually finished it but not without getting distracted by checking my emails and blog reader feed.

    1. Yeah I too thought that the premise could really deliver an exciting, harsh, and engaging film – instead we got this. The creepiness was effective, but even that could have been better in my opinion.
      I wish I could have had something that distracted me!

  8. theipc · · Reply

    I thought I commented on this last night – maybe I did, maybe I didn’t but in any case – this movie was so lame….

    1. You commented via twitter 🙂
      It was incredibly lame, I kept giving it the benefit of the doubt but it really tested my patience. I’m not sure at what point I gave up trying to make the movie better in my head, but I do know that there was a lot more of it to get through from that point until it finally ended. It’s a shame.

      1. theipc · · Reply

        That’s right! (I had some beers and decided to go for a bicycle ride for the first time in a decade – I was not myself when I got back from that shit – LOL)

        I’m all for naked chicks but NOTHING ever happened in this…. ever…..

        1. Haha, that’s fair enough then!
          It was the way the film clearly had tricked itself into believing it was using nudity in an ‘artistic’ and challenging way which particularly annoyed me. And you’re right, I mean the premise was ripe for exploring and then it was just left floating around whilst nothing much happened.

        2. Oh also, my emails are having trouble getting through to you. So just in case you haven’t received them yet – I’m very interested in doing an interview 😀

          1. theipc · ·

            GREAT!!!! isn’t working?

        3. I’m not sure. It simply says that the emails are delayed in getting to you rather than that something isn’t working. I figured that it would be quicker just to let you know on here rather than to bombard you with emails in the hope that one got through!

          1. theipc · ·

            I think you’ve read the past posts – can all of the fit into that form on your contact page? I don’t know if there’s a text or size limit? I could just send them to you through that if it’s easier : )

        4. I have indeed read the past posts 🙂
          I don’t think there is a size limit so you may as well go for it!
          Let’s hope that the emails have fixed themselves by the time I need to give you my answers!

  9. Oh it was horrid! Horrid!! 🙂

    1. Wasn’t it! The only reason I kept going with it was because of a very mild interest in whether anything noteworthy happened in the end, but also so that I could talk about it on here and give it what may be my all time least positive review!

      1. Agree, there’s nothing much to take away from it and you forget about it 10 minutes after its over.

  10. theipc · · Reply

    Cool – I’m balls out busy lately so I’ll get you something soon : )

    1. No problem!

    1. That is awesome – thanks!

      1. meeradarjiyr1 · · Reply

        Your welcome!

  11. […] sci-fi film, Alien. If you haven’t checked out Mr. Rumsey’s film related Musings, and all the cool posts that he writes, head on over after reading this. You won’t be disappointed, also, this review is awesome! […]

  12. […] as lucky. Mr. Rumsey’s Film Related Musings wasn’t impressed with Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty and Dan the Man’s Movie Review’s put a beat down on Robert Redford’s Lion’s […]

  13. I’ve been meaning to watch this for ages – sorry to hear you didn’t like it so much 😦 perhaps i’ll give it a miss then!

    1. I would indeed advise skipping past this one! However, if you decide to see it anyway let me know what you think if it. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts!

  14. Bleugh, I really hated this film. My main problem with this film is purely because I don’t think I understood it, and I don’t care if that’s not a good enough reason to dislike a film, for me – it is! I don’t get what the film was trying to do, what was the message of the film? I was intrigued in the film during the first half, thinking it would lead somewhere, but it never did, nothing really happens. The fault with this film lies with the direction of Julia Leigh; she tried so hard to make an artistic film, and ended up turning it into a disaster!

    1. I’m pretty certain that the film didn’t have a message. it may have tricked itself into believing it had one at some point, but whatever it was it got lost somewhere along the line.
      Yeah Leigh’s direction wasn’t great, she also wrote the film – that double bill clearly didn’t work out well here. I hated the film for letting me down so much. It was so frustrating as this could have been really good!

  15. Damn, I’m starting to think I’m the only person who absolutely loved this movie 🙂

    1. I think you may be!
      Just took a look at your review and I understand where you are coming from, just for me the isolation and emptiness of Lucy’s life come across as insubstantially written, rather than meaningful. It seems that we can agree on Browning’s performance and the film’s cinematography both being great though! 😀

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