Sundance Selects has acquired the distribution rights to one of this year's more controversial films at Cannes, "Sleeping Beauty," starring Emily Browning in a haunting fairy tale about a young woman who finds herself working as a prostitute.
When the first trailer for "Sleeping Beauty" was released, we had to back away slowly--not only was a super creepy, it contained some material unfit for a family website. But now there's a more chaste cut of the trailer, as well as the first round of review following its world premiere at Cannes.
Reactions have been mixed, leaning toward negative, but with star Emily Browning and director Julia Leigh both receiving praise for their work.
"Browning’s performance is bound to collect accolades even though the movie will scare off a lot of audiences and distributors, and Leigh (who has several other projects in the works) has firmly put herself on the map as a director to watch."
The Film Stage
"The obvious sentiment that 'Sleeping Beauty' tries to evoke is shock, but instead it feels like schlock. The imagery of perfect skin and beauty contrasted with naked old men is designed to leave you uncomfortable, but there is very little cinematic punch to the scenes. The film is shot in Kubrickian symmetry, often with little-to-no camera movement, nearly no music and minimal editing within scenes in order to feel like a painting."
"Browning’s performance is utterly fearless, suffused with mystery, cold as ice. Leigh’s spare screenplay trusts the audience to fill in the imaginative spaces, and her framing is precise and economical.. What a strange, ensnaring achievement, not least for a first-time feature, Sleeping Beauty is: no male director could have made it."
"While I can't say I loved 'Sleeping Beauty,' it is a film that will stick with me, and I suspect this is the beginning of a long and interesting career for Leigh as a writer/director… As it is, this is a museum piece, mounted on a wall behind glass, able to be seen but never felt, a cold film about heated things, fascinating but flawed."
"The best thing about the film is how disturbing it is. The film’s biggest problem is how boring it is. Yes, even with a pretty naked girl, full-frontal male nudity, prostitution, drugs and casual sex, 'Sleeping Beauty' turns out to be very slow and a little dull."
"What distinguishes this provocative Cannes arthouse competition entry from the commercial folderol of 'Sucker Punch' is, I guess, that 'Sleeping Beauty,' by first-time Australian writer-director Julia Leigh, is presented as a feminist exploration (Jane Campion is prominently listed as a mentor). And 'Sucker Punch' can be dismissed as, you know, a cheesy fanboy fantasy. I’m not sold on the distinction."