James Stewart stars as a railroad man hired to secretly carry a payroll despite his suspected connections to outlaws
A young univeristy student (Ghost Ship's Emily Browning) is drawn into a mysterious underworld of scraggy old men who want to watch you sleep naked
Emily Browning (Ghost Ship, Sucker Punch) gives the best performance of her career so far as an emotionally introverted but physically exposed character who places her body in the care of various authority figures (doctors doing some sort of medical trial, a madame type in a sex-mansion) in exchange for money.
Outwardly, she remains impassively unfazed by the majority of these physical impositions. Perhaps she doesn't care, and has achieved a genuine separation between what happens to her body and her sense of self. Perhaps she has little self-esteem and believes on some level that she deserves to be physically degraded. Or perhaps she enjoys the degradation, the abandonment and danger, the implicit sense of trust blended with abasement.
All of these are interesting psychologies to explore; it's a shame Sleeping Beauty kind of leaves them hanging. For sure, it's great when filmmakers leave us to make our own minds up, but here, we're not even given very much to make our minds up about. Sleeping Beauty is a rather chilly, bone-china-pretty, closed-off film, that disdains its audience as voyeurs rather than inviting them in. It reminds me of erotic Japonesque porcelain - frank, yet remote.
A strange, lyrical film, Sleeping Beauty slips away like a half-remembered dream and is perhaps ultimately of as much consequence
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