December 10th, 2011

Masks

Porcelain Porn



I don't think I like lingerie very much. I kind of like stockings, and I kind of like 40s and 50s lingerie in an almost non-sexual way, but the full suits of modern lingerie, like those seen in Julia Leigh's 2011 film Sleeping Beauty, usually just seem kind of cheesy to me. Especially the bra without cups--it visually dislocates the breasts and kind of diminishes their meaning. The movie itself is kind of like a cupless bra, then--it's an exercise in austerity, a series of starchy, posed, department store catalogue video sequences. Sometimes it's sexy, but the effective moments don't quite serve the hazy point of the whole. Bits tease out the beginnings of thoughts that don't connect or lead anywhere, but are provoking enough to make the brain spin uselessly.



It does redeem Emily Browning for participating in a Zack Snyder movie this year. She doesn't give an especially interesting performance, but she looks incredible naked. I mean, she's a really beautiful girl.

She's the main character, and mostly the point of view. The only time we leave her POV is when she's paid to sleep. This is what the title refers to--as part of some expensive, stuffy escort service, Browning's character, Lucy, is placed in a drugged sleep, naked, in bed, and clients get to spend the evening alone with her. Except the service is so snooty that penetration isn't allowed. Which makes me think Julia Leigh has a naively high opinion of bored rich guys. At the very least, I'd think a competing service would quickly spring up.



Lucy's a bit of a daredevil. When offered drugs or a sexual adventure, her standard answer is, "Why not?" At one point she tells a guy, "Fear of death is the number one hoax." So why is she so dull? Maybe it's just the movie never gives her an opportunity to be interesting. She spends the whole movie having things explained to her while she looks on blankly before nodding in assent. And, of course, she spends a significant portion of the movie unconscious. This could be a metaphor for the callow life she leads. But then the movie seems like climbing Mount Everest just to tell a Sherpa, "A stitch in time saves nine."



The only time we see Lucy emotionally engaging is with an apparently clinically depressed guy who can't leave his apartment. He won't have sex with her because he loathes himself too much. One interesting scene, which nevertheless felt like a flash in the pan, has Lucy lying on the couch with him as they watch a documentary on marsupial mice. The television's muted, and he recites to her the informative narration which he's evidently memorised.

The point of these scenes, I guess, is to comment on how Lucy's heart isn't present when she's on her sexual escapades. Maybe. It's hard to tell, she's kind of cold with the depressed guy too. Either way, I'm not sure why it matters.

There are some creepy moments, as when one of the sleeping beauty clients thoroughly licks Lucy's face, but this really just made me marvel at how Browning can keep herself from blinking or flinching. There are several genuinely sexy moments, but it feels like we have to spend too much time in a dentist's waiting room to get to them. Sleepy Beauty is a professionally produced item, with some intermittently decent softcore porn moments, but feeling and meaning don't come through.