New Indie Thursday: Sleeping Beauty

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I have to admit, I like insane premises when choosing whether to a watch a movie or not. If the movie is just another relationship drama and I don’t care about anyone behind the scenes, I usually skip it. But if a movie has a premise that I view as unique or at least interesting, it will usually end up in my queue at some point. This predilection has led to discovering some fascinating experiments in cinema. But sometimes this constant need to pick up a movie based solely on a one line premise comes back to bite me in the tush. I saw Sleeping Beauty (not the Disney version) show up on Netflix streaming a couple of months ago. Through they’re complicated (or not so complicated) algorithms, the movie kept popping up on my recommendations list, so I read a short synopsis and it immediately grabbed me. I saved it for a time in the near future where I would have time to check it out. That time finally came a couple of days ago. After watching it, my tush is sore from the slow nips this movie kept giving me.

Lucy is a broke college student. She works several low paying jobs and volunteers for paid science experiments in order to scrounge up enough cash for rent. It never seems to be enough. That is until she sees an advertisement in the student newspaper for a cocktail waitress. She answers it and it turns out to be a lingerie only gig. The woman in charge of the event exudes luxury and posh manners. She tells Lucy that she will never be penetrated and her vagina is a temple (ick!). After she successfully completes her first party in pointless lingerie, her employer ups the ante. She invites Lucy to her home and offers a spiked tea that allows her to be completely unconscious for several hours. She is then placed in a very comfortable looking bed completely naked. We see the employer enter with old rich men who have paid a considerable amount of money to be with this woman while she is asleep. These men violate her without penetrating her (because her vagina is a temple!) and she is given a good lump sum after the experience. Although she is now without need in the cash flow department, she becomes curious as to what actually goes on in the room while she is sleeping. This will get her in trouble and lead us to the conclusion of the story.

This movie was a snooze. I’m sorry I had to make the joke, but it doesn’t mean it is not a valid judgement. I feel like everyone that was involved in this movie was sleep walking. They seemed to have made decisions, but they didn’t feel completely conscious ones. Characters are axed for no discernible reason, motivations become unclear, and the protagonist is actually very unlikable in a story that hinges on us as viewers sympathizing with her plight. At one point we see that Lucy has an intimate relationship with man who is sick and does not leave his room. He is clearly in love with her, but her indifference toward him is palpable even when she is crying over the suffering he is going through. We don’t get any explanation behind this relationship or why this man is stuck in his apartment or what he is dying from. The screenplay doesn’t seem to care. He is purely a plot point that is dispensed with when he is no longer needed. The problem with this movie is two-fold. One is the screenplay is lacking in anything that would be called character motivations beyond the surface ones of her needing money. The other is Emily Browning who plays Lucy. Ms. Browning cannot carry a movie. She seems to lie there motionless even when she is supposed to be active in her scene. She cannot emote and she cannot internalize any action going on around her. Both of these things leads to a very boring movie that put me to sleep.

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