Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Sleeping Beauty (2 Stars)

Sometimes a film is too arthouse for its own good. That's the impression I get with this film. The director had a screenplay that involved a lot of female nudity, so she decided to film it in a tasteful artistic way to avoid being accused of sexual titillation for the sake of it. The result is incredibly boring. This is Julia Leigh's first film as director. She shows talent, however, and I'm sure she'll improve as time goes on.

The film is about Lucy, a teenage student who is doing a string of part time jobs to pay her bills. We see her wiping tables in a restaurant and making photocopies in an office. But then she has a lucky break. She's given a job as a hostess in an exclusive club. Dressed in lingerie she has to serve drinks at dinner parties for old men. For this she is paid $250 an hour. That's definitely worth the money, even if they occasionally touch her.

After settling in Lucy is offered another job by the club. She has to sleep naked in a large bed, for the same hourly rate. She's given a sleeping potion to make sure she doesn't wake up during the night. While she's asleep an old man remains with her who is talking to her, touching her or just sleeping next to her. The only rule is that he's not allowed to penetrate her. After all, it's not prostitution!

To me this is creepy. It would be easier for me it accept if it had been prostitution. Being able to buy time with an unconscious woman is the ultimate in female objectivisation. It's the last resort for impotent old men who are unable to get female company any other way. It might be better for them than real prostitution, because a normal prostitute might feel too disgusted to touch them. They're much better off with a sleeping beauty. I doubt clubs like this really exist, but maybe the director intended to make a statement about Internet pornography? It's now possible to watch webcam shows of naked women without the women being able to see who is watching.

Despite all the nudity, this isn't a sex film. The nudity is very sterile and unsexual. For this reason the choice of Emily Browning as Lucy is appropriate. She's attractive without being sexy. Nothing about her titillates the viewer. She has small breasts and narrow hips, giving her a boyish quality. Maybe the intention is to present her to the old men as an underage girl, even though she's really over 18? Some men might be turned on by that, but I prefer women to look like women. I find Emily Browning much more attractive in the university scenes when she's dressed normally.

As I mentioned in my post on "Battle Royale", this film is one of the main reasons I signed up for a free trial of Netflix. I was disappointed that it wasn't available, but I found out today that it's just a question of configuring my browser correctly. This makes Netflix much more attractive to me and increases the likelihood that I shall continue to use it after my free trial period runs out.

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