Sleeping Beauty – 2011. A Jane Campion Film (Australia) -Wiki

Sleeping Beauty – 2011. A Jane Campion Film (Australia)

The film is based in part on the novel The House of the Sleeping Beauties by Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata.

I liked this film very much. The star is Emily Browning who I remember last seeing in the film “NED KELLY”. Before watching this film I had read a few reviews about it and most of the reviews were not glowing, and there seemed to be a lot of criticism. The faults that most people described in the film, I did not see as faults at all. I thought it was beautifully filmed and well acted. I remember reading the original short story many years ago when I was going through my Japanese phase. I do recommend this film very much I personally gave it a 4.5 Stars out of 5. Compare it to “Eyes Wide Shut” I don’t think so. Two different films, two different head trips.

Lucy (Browning) is introduced as a university student who holds a number of odd jobs: She volunteers as a test subject at the university medical research lab performing an experimental activity where she swallows an oesophageal balloon, works as a cleaner/server at a coffee shop, and makes photocopies at an unnamed office. She also is seen at a high-class bar offering herself as a sex partner (it is never shown whether she is paid or not). She has a room where her landlord obviously doesn’t like her, and she spends her time visiting an aloof man known only as Birdmann (Leslie). He is attracted to her, but she doesn’t return the affection, though she does appear happier with him than at any other time. She serves him breakfast cereal with vodka, while pouring herself a glass as well.

At Lucy’s office job, she gets a call from her mother, apparently asking for money. She petulantly gives her mother potentially fake credit card information, while her supervisor looks on, disapprovingly.

Lucy responds to an ad and is invited to meet with Clara (Blake), who describes the job: freelance silver service in lingerie provided by her group. Lucy agrees with no hesitation and Clara says that there is no penetration involved, despite Lucy making it clear that isn’t a problem for her. She lies about using drugs and knowing how to do silver service waitressing, but Clara accepts her anyway. Clara says she will call Lucy by the name Sarah, and refers to her as such for the rest of the film.

Lucy is seen getting beauty treatments and showing off her silver-service pouring skills for Birdmann before arriving for the event. She is the only girl dressed in white lingerie, which mostly covers her breasts; the other women present seem much older, have cut-out black lingerie, and wear severe makeup. The event is a formal dinner party at an ornate, elegant home for five elderly gentlemen and one woman. Lucy serves drinks throughout and is excused after having served brandy to the guests. As she is about to leave, she is intentionally tripped by one of the guests and collapses on the floor, smashing the brandy bottle, just as the party turns into more of an orgy between the guests and the other girls. She goes home with the money she made, counts out her rent, then burns one banknote.

Lucy’s personal life begins changing at that point. Birdmann confesses that he’s not going to make it, begging off detox when it is suggested by Lucy. While in his apartment, Lucy asks if Birdmann will marry her, to which he casually replies yes. It becomes clear that neither is sincere about holding up their end of the proposal, and that this is more of a running joke.

After at least one other session as a serving girl, Lucy gets a call from Clara’s assistant Thomas (Eden Falk) for a different request. Lucy is driven to a country mansion where Clara informs her that she’ll drink some tea and then fall into a deep sleep. Later we see Lucy lying in a large bed, sedated, as Clara leads in the man who hosted the first dinner party. He recollects a short story he once read to Clara, and expresses a wish to “have all his bones broken.” After Clara reminds the man of the no penetration rule and departs, he strips, caresses Lucy’s body, and cuddles up next to her as the scene fades.

After a tense conversation with her landlords, Lucy is evicted from her room. She then rents a much more expensive apartment with a beautiful view of the city, taking on the lease before even seeing the place.

After two more sessions sleeping at Clara’s house (during one of which the client burns her slightly with a cigarette as an act of sexual sadism and to test the strength of the sedative), Birdmann calls her; he has overdosed on drugs, and she visits him as he dies. She takes off her shirt and gets in bed with him, but she then simply cries and makes no effort to help him. At his funeral, Lucy talks to a former acquaintance and blandly asks him if he’ll marry her, echoing her earlier casual banter with Birdmann. Unlike Birdmann, he believes her to be sincere in her request and is dumbfounded. He refuses, citing a previous failed relationship with her, his new one that is working well, and several character flaws he observes in Lucy. He tells her to “Fuck [herself] to death” and to try courtesy. Lucy raises her glass “to courtesy.”

Shortly after, she is fired from her office job. Lucy then buys a small concealable camera at an electronics store, and tests it during one of her classes. She takes drugs with a coworker from her coffee shop job, goes night swimming with him, and wakes up naked in her apartment with him in the bed next to her. She is late for her assignment with Clara, who sends a car to retrieve her. She is hung over, and vomits on the way to the mansion.

Once Lucy arrives, she lies to Clara, saying she feels “fine,” and then asks Clara if she can see what happens during the sessions while she is asleep. Clara refuses, saying it will put her clients at risk of blackmail. When Lucy is in the bed for the session, however, she awakes, and removes the small camera she had concealed in her mouth. Staggering under the onset of the effects of the sleep-inducing tea, she is able to place the camera on the side of the room, and then returns to bed and falls asleep. The client is the first man again, but this time he also takes the tea with extra drugs for suicide. Clara comes in and checks the man’s pulse, showing no surprise when he cannot be awakened. She tries to wake Lucy and can’t, eventually having to use mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Lucy wakes, and sees the naked man lying beside her, discovers that he is dead, and begins screaming.

The movie ends with the scene captured by the camera Lucy installed: the dead old man and the sleeping girl both lying on the bed.


  1. Pingback: “Sleeping Beauty”: The world of high-class whore houses « Radu presents: The Movie-Photo Blog

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