I had tried to get tickets for this film at last years Toronto International Film Festival. It was written and directed by Julia Leigh (Disquiet), a writer I admire. I wasn’t able to get tickets however, so I had to wait for the DVD release (April 10th) – actually it was released at the same time in the streaming version.
Oh, what a disappointment. I think I know what Leigh had in mind – a bold and provocative look at female sexuality, along with a concomitant look at the view of women held by males in their fantasies. Although the star of the film – Julia, the sleeping beauty, played by Emily Browning – is nude through much of the film, it’s all strangely antiseptic and non-erotic. That, of course, is the point.
Julia is a college student trying to make ends meet, working several part time jobs, and freelancing on her own with sexual acts for pay. Then she answers an ad that puts her in a position to increase her earning power with a service that provides women to serve high end events in revealing lingerie. At her initial interview, she is promised there is a strict prohibition against “penetration”. This is repeated at least a half-dozen times throughout the film. Later she progresses to becoming a sleeping beauty: she’s willingly drugged and men spend the night with her and can do whatever they want with her body. But “no penetration” sill applies. The film shows at least three of the men (all elderly) and the scenes are frankly disturbing.
I’m not suggesting that Julia Leigh should stick to literature but her initial cinema foray was, for me, less than successful.