WTF Did I Just Watch? #3 Sleeping Beauty (2011)

Click here to read ‘WTF Did I Just Watch?’ #1 Stoker

Click here to read ‘WTF Did I Just Watch?’ #2 Fur

If someone said to you ‘Sleeping Beauty’, what would you think of? A Princess who lives with three witches? A Prince on horseback fighting the baddie? If you have seen the 2011 film Sleeping Beauty, you may not be thinking of such things.

Emily Browning plays Lucy, a University student who takes a job as a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in which she is paid to be drugged and left naked in bed whilst men pay for her company as she sleeps.

Lucy is a very interesting character; she has a sense of confidence which allows her to do as she wishes and relish the danger of her actions. Browning has said of her character that; “She is willing to let whatever happens, happen… in a moment where any regular person would break eye contact and it would be an awkward, tense moment, Lucy has to stand her ground and show doesn’t really care at all what people think about her.”

This film marks the writing and directing debut of Julia Leigh, who has said she wrote the film after the death of a close friend. She has said that she intended to make a film that is “beautiful, challenging and memorable.” All of these things this film certainly is. Jane Campion is the producer, and is well known herself for her quirky films, including The Piano and Holy Smoke, which she wrote and directed.

If you watch the trailer for the film, it is almost exactly how the film plays out. That is, most of the scenes have little or no dialogue, and the characters spend a lot of their time starring intensely across the room at each other. This only serves to make the film more odd and interesting. Each character is seemingly hiding a secret motive, and as the film progresses, you are more intrigued to try and work out what their reasons for their actions are. Especially in regards to Lucy, whose characterisation is seen mostly through her relationship with others in the film; she seems independent and a free spirit, but underneath the intensity and disconnection from the world that she shows, as the film progresses, it seems that she is just a step away from breaking.

Mia Wasikowska was originally cast to play Lucy, but left production to make Restless. Although it is easy to picture Wasikowska in the role, Browning plays a character so perfectly. As there is such little dialogue in the film, she has to act out the role in her looks and actions more than in her speech, which she manages extremely well.

In addition to the odd plotline and interesting characters, a major factor in making this film part of the ‘WTF did I just watch?’ series is the use of single lenses shots throughout. Instead of the camera moving between characters to capture different reactions and movements, the camera follows each character or characters on screen for several minutes at a time, capturing all of the emotion and feeling in their face and body, even after they have finished speaking. Although it may seem weird to linger on a character for such a time, this allows the audience to feel part of the scene, as the character is staring down the lens at you, drawing you into the film.

I would recommend this film to anyone because of Emily Browning alone. This is most certainly my favourite role of hers, and I hope we see more films such as this made in the future.

Published 9th December 2013


About writingsuzanne

History graduate. Freelance writer and reviewer. Passionate about film, theatre and music (film soundtracks!).
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4 Responses to WTF Did I Just Watch? #3 Sleeping Beauty (2011)

  1. Pingback: The Greatest Films to Make You Say; ‘WTF Did I Just Watch?’ #1 Stoker | Writing Suzanne

  2. Pingback: The Greatest Films to Make You Say; ‘WTF Did I Just Watch?’ #2 Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus | Writing Suzanne

  3. Pingback: WTF Did I Just Watch? #1 Stoker | Writing Suzanne

  4. Pingback: WTF Did I Just Watch? #2 Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus | Writing Suzanne

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