Sleeping Beauty 2011

A haunting portrait of Lucy, a young university student drawn into a mysterious hidden world of unspoken desires.


Julia Leigh - the award-winning Australian author of The Hunter and Disquiet - was mentored by Jane Campion on her filmmaking debut, an unsettling erotic fairytale selected for Official Competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Emily Browning is alabaster perfection as Lucy, a university student working numerous self-effacing jobs. She is socially isolated from her housemates and fellow students and spends her limited free time ministering to the peculiar desires of her morbidly depressed best friend Birdmann (Ewen Leslie). Her strong-willed drift towards oblivion is anchored only by a need for money and she signs up with an exclusive lingerie club run by the elegant Clara (Rachael Blake), whose controlling demeanor is both intoxicating and comforting. Like a heroine from a film by Marguerite Duras or Luis Buñuel (directors with whom Leigh shares an austere intellectualism and visual mannerism respectively), Lucy is a sexual and thinking being, neither innocent nor totally complicit. Mysterious and bewitching, her disruptive impulses derive from a mix of boredom and discontentedness and ultimately lead her into a dangerous, heady slumber from which, like the titular princess, she will be awakened.

Strong sexual themes, nudity and coarse language


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Running Time


Critic Reviews

  • Sleeping Beauty Review

    Reviewed by Simon Miraudo

    I remember seeing a production of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days with my high school drama class. For those unfamiliar with the play, it features a woman trapped in a mound of dirt for two long acts; ...

    + Read the full review

Member Reviews

  • yawn

  • An extremely engaging movie. For the more abstract minded, who want alluring unasked questions that just linger in the background.

  • This is an artistic festival movie. The nude scenes are part of the story rather than pornography . This sort of behaviour probably goes on in circles wealthy enough to pay for it. I thought the ending was a let down but the movie never promised anything more.

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