Cannes 2011 Review: Emily Browning in Julia Leigh's 'Sleeping Beauty'
by Alex Billington
May 12, 2011
Julia Leigh's Sleeping Beauty is exactly the kind of film I hate. Made by an amateur Australian novelist-turned-filmmaker named Julia Leigh, who shouldn't be directing and, perhaps, should never direct again. It's bland, boring, tasteless, has a story about as thin as thread, is full of pointless fade outs and lacks more than 10 seconds of music in the entire film (which I cannot stand). I guess the redeeming value, if there was one, is that Aussie actress Emily Browning is naked in nearly every scene. But not even for good reason. A highly anticipated Cannes film and yep, it was awful, and I actually have something to say about it this time.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be chauvinistic and say that the nudity was all that kept me hooked (because it didn't, it wasn't even that exciting). I would love to even try and explain some of the plot but that's quite a challenge because… there isn't one. Browning (last seen in Sucker Punch) plays a young Australian girl who, although she works three side jobs and is apparently taking college classes as well, decides to join a 'brothel for old people' - which is honestly the best description for it. (But they can't have sex with her.) Why does she join? No reason. Does it lead anywhere? Nope. That's all the movie is. Period.
Sleeping Beauty felt like a film where a random smattering of overly-pretentious, drawn out scenes were simply slapped together in chronological order in an attempt to tell a story. There's no editing, no creativity to it, nothing. How does she finish one segment to move on to the next? Slow fade to black. I don't even get how she was so pretentious directing her first film, it makes no sense. I've seen student films and short films which have more flair and structure and worthwhile storytelling than this fiasco. I don't even understand the point of why this film was made, it had nothing to say, and the lead character had no real messages either.
As I said at the start, this is just one of those films I cannot stand seeing, even though I did sit through it. It's so bad it frustrates me that it exists at all. Others can attempt to find meaning in it and they may, but I would be astonished. I'm not often this negative about films and when I am, I try to forget them as soon as I can. But this film was such a let down (it had a great trailer) that I wanted more than ever to voice my opinion about how pointless, bland, pretentious and frustrating it was to watch all 101 minutes of this atrocity. Stay away at all costs. It's not worth it, not even for Browning. Now if only I could fade to black…
Alex's Cannes Rating: 2 out of 10