2018/09/08

Palatable: Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty (2011)
Directed and written by Julia Leigh
Produced by Jessica Brentnall, Sasha Burrows, Jamie Hilton, Timothy White
Starring Emily Browning, Rachael Blake, Ewen Leslie, Peter Carroll, Chris Haywood, Lizzie Schebesta, Hugh Keays-Byrne
(This isn't to be confounded with Catherine Breillat's choice, coincident feminist interpretation of the eponymous fairy tale.)
Appropriately perfect proportions, poise and pulchritude are prerequisites met by a poor, pert, pretty, promiscuous and insipid student (Browning) who clears her financial obligations by positions as a research lab's adjutant, office's clerk, bistro's barista, and suggestively vestured silver service waitress serving wealthy, elderly attendees of sumptuous soirees. Both beauty and proven decorum in that last appointment encourage her stiffly seemly employer (Blake) to extend a more lucrative commission: while narcotically asleep, some among the foregoing patrons are permitted to have their way with her, barring bruising and penetration. With innuendo broad and small in graceful static shots and slow pans, Leigh's only directorial credit to date delineates the perniciousness idly attending affluence and atomization, the heavy pall so often shrouding twilight years and that smugly, ironically wearisome simulation by empty, aimless mundanes of normality, all incorporated by Browning's unreflective sylph, her sole, ailing friend (Leslie) and aged clients: wistful caresser (Carroll), abusive churl (Haywood), faltering admirer (Keays-Byrne). A lesser filmmaker might've squandered this premise to inveigh against the putative patriarchy that so vexes privileged and enfranchised third-wave demagogues, but Leigh's profound, personal burdens, luxely furnished and as exquisitely underplayed, are far too valuable.
Recommended for a double feature paired with Eyes Wide Shut.

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