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Cannes: Sleeping Beauty Intros Director Leigh, Keeps Audience at Bay, Bought by Sundance Selects

by Anne Thompson
May 16, 2011 1:02 AM
3 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

Walking on the Croisette, I ran into Jane Campion, who was in town to support Australian novelist-turned-director Julia Leigh. Campion said that her "challenging" film Sleeping Beauty would never have gotten made if she hadn't agreed, when approached by Screen Australia, to "mentor" the project. Campion believes in this brainy writer-director, who came up with a fascinating way to confront moviegoers' comfort zone around female sexuality and prostitution.

Trouble is, Leigh leaves so many blanks in her narrative, about a young woman (well-played by Sucker Punch star Emily Browning, who can hold the screen) who needs money so badly that she signs up for an escort service that offers wealthy members elaborate dinners served by young babes in revealing cut-out demi-bras. She eventually submits to repeatedly being drugged into sleep, not knowing what the clients do to her when she is down for the count . "No penetration," warns the Madame.

Thompson on Hollywood

Reviews of this good-looking film are all over the map as critics project their own interpretations onto Leigh's scanty, unengaging narrative. Which does lead to enjoyable debates about what it all means. Aaron Hillis insists that this girl is "confident." I saw her as utterly depressed and lost. Hmmmm. Here's Telegraph, indieWIRE and The Playlist.

At any rate, Sundance Selects, the sibling division to IFC Films and IFC Midnight, has acquired U.S. rights, which means it will be made available on VOD after the fall fest circuit.

"For the last five days, people throughout Cannes have been discussing Sleeping Beauty," said Jonathan Sehring, pesident of Sundance Selects. "We are thrilled to introduce Julia Leigh and her arresting debut to American audiences, and to continuing the discussion."

3 Comments

  • Victoria | May 24, 2011 2:53 AMReply

    As the french say

    On navigue dans un film qui sous ses partis pris esthétiques qui se veulent sophistiqués s'avère finalement assez vain et artificiel. Raté.'

  • George | May 17, 2011 10:38 AMReply

    The film isn't "challenging" it's boring. No character development, no plot, no rhyme or reason for its existence. Pretty to look at though. Good cure for insomnia; very hypnotic and lures you to sleep.

  • mary | May 16, 2011 2:43 AMReply

    I mistakenly thought that Sundance Selects was a label of IFC Films, because IFC Films has been handling the theatrical releases of all Sundance Selects' theatrical titles (like "Cave of Forgotten Dreams", which is doing well at box office.)

    "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" isn't released on VOD day-and-date with the theatrical release. But I guess simultaneous theatrical/VOD release would be good fit for "Sleeping Beauty" (list like what IFC did with other sexual movies likes "Antichrist" and "The Last Mistress")

    Anyway, "Sleeping Beauty" seem more like to be a good showcase for Emily Browning; she will have chance to play more interesting roles in more interesting indie movies. In fact, Emily Browning is set to team with another rising star Juno Temple to star in the indie "Magic Magic" (I had always thought that Emily Browning should try to go indie route; looks like she does so right now.)
    http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/archives/juno_temple_emily_browning_catalina_sandino_moreno_all_join_michael_cera_in/

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