The Sleeping Beauty

Carla Besnainou in "The Sleeping Beauty."

I will just come right out with it.  I did not “get” “The Sleeping Beauty.”  It is beautiful to look at, but, at the same time, just as strikingly non-compelling.  French director Catherine Breillat certainly seems to have a point of view and a definite vision. I just wish that she had cared to share it with the audience (which amounted to me and just two or three others at the 2:20 screening this past Friday at IFC Center).

Breillat is a Paris based filmmaker and actress.  Interestingly enough she acted in “Last Tango in Paris,” (1972).  As a writer/director Breillat is known for her distinctive take on gender issues, sibling rivalry and sexuality, as portrayed in such films as “Fat Girl” (2001) and “Sex is Comedy” (2002).

“The Sleeping Beauty” is a revisionist fairy tale about a young girl, Anastasia (Carla Besnainou) put under a spell to make her sleep for 100 years, and wake up when she is 16.  The spell is cast by some attractive witches.  Why?  I am not sure really, but one of the witches says something about childhood taking too long.

Most of what we see in the film is what Anastasia experiences in her dream world.  While it looks appropriately dreamy, the story is not particularly interesting or coherent.  Anastasia meets a dwarf and a big guy with sores all over his body and other assorted dream like characters.  Eventually she wakes up, at age 16, and the story has to do with her budding sexuality.

At the very least Breillat could have provided “Cliff’s Notes.”  Either that, or something was definitely lost in translation.

IFC Center is located at 323 Sixth Avenue at 3rd Street in New York.

“The Sleeping Beauty,” director Catherine Breillat, 2010,

Strand Releasing, 82 minutes


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on July 19, 2011, in New. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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