Sleeping Beauty comes to UK Region Free Blu-ray complete with a solid 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. It’s generally a good presentation that boasts superb detail in both the close-ups and the longer shots, excellent fine object detail throughout, and no signs of any softness, or digital defects like edge enhancement and the side-effects of DNR overcooking. The slow-burning cinematography is well-represented throughout. The colour scheme is decidedly muted, a de-saturated palette which favours autumnal tones (aside from the bleached-out clinical look of the University labs) and really has nothing vibrant about it whatsoever – in an effort to reflect the path of the lead character, no doubt. Black levels are strong and make for decent enough shadowing. Inherently this video presentation was never going to impress – the material itself simply does not allow for it – but it’s a good effort nonetheless, and accurately reflects the movie itself.
Similarly the audio representation is held back only by the nature of the material itself, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track having not enough to work with if it wanted to be regarded as a demo quality offering. Dialogue comes across clearly and distinctly from the fronts and centre speakers, and is simply never obstructed by any of the other elements on the mix, unsurprisingly because of the other elements are so restrained. We get a few nominal effects – but they are mostly from the characters themselves (we get to hear Lucy gagging, gargling, choking and screaming) with very few moments that break beyond the vague atmospheric ambience of the piece. The club and bar environments are represented well, and any noises that there are nicely juxtaposed the common silence in most scenes. Similarly the score is totally underplayed, although to a certain extent this is a massive plus point in terms of the atmosphere that is created. Bass is almost non-existent, but for in the bar scenes and a couple of the more atmospherically heightened moments, and overall this is a solid but unexceptional aural accompaniment.
Cast and Crew Interviews make for the only significant extra on this disc, a 13-minute collection which features input from writer/director Julia Leigh, who basically describes the entire movie and then attempts to offer some vague insight into the themes she was seeking to explore, whilst also noting her inspiration based on real-life experiences, and reflecting on her shooting style; lead actress Emily Browning, who talks about what drew her to the piece, how she crafted the character and how she watched loads of movies with strong female roles in preparation for the part (odd, considering I would not regard this as a strong female role at all).
There are also Previews on disc startup and access to the Theatrical Trailer.
Julia Leigh’s directorial debut, Sleeping Beauty attempts to be more than just a tale of rich and very dirty old men fawning over an unconscious naked twenty-something girl in a bed. To a certain extent it succeeds – despite the near-constant full-frontal nudity from daring actress Emily Browning, there is simply nothing erotic about this particular erotic fantasy – by unfortunately it still fails as a mystery drama in its own right basically because it simply has nothing to say. It hints at sexual disassociation; the juxtaposition of a young sexual object living a dead existence with near-death old, impotent men desperately clinging to every single moment, but largely fails to deliver anything of substance. Pretentious will be the word on most viewers’ lips and I have to say, I don’t really blame them. This was a clever idea coupled with a brave lead actress; some innovative cinematography married up to a suitably underplayed atmospheric score, unfortunately all undermined by a complete lack of direction – wherever Leigh intended to go with this piece, she never got there.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray we get decent enough video presentation coupled with solid aural representation and a single solitary extra. Honestly, if the only reason why you have any interest in this film is because of its intriguing premise then I strongly recommend you consider a rental first to see if it’s to your tastes. Obviously fans of the film, who probably regard it as a stunning work of art, should regard this as a healthy release to purchase, but everybody else should think carefully before going down this particular road because it’s far from a pleasant journey, and, worse still, far from a meaningful one.
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