Catherine Breillat’s bracing explorations of female mythologies find epic resonance in her latest film. The Sleeping Beauty sees the eminent filmmaker working at the height of her powers, something those fortunate enough to have seen her beguiling canon at TIFF Cinematheque this summer have already experienced.
Astonishing landscapes that circumnavigate the globe, and a dizzying mix of historical periods, provide a backdrop for the little girl at the film’s centre. Breillat’s cinematographic eye has rarely been expressed on such a large canvas or with such razor-sharp intent.
Noah Cowan (tiff.net)
What did the Sleeping Beauty dream about in her long years of slumber? Catherine Breillat gives her own answer in this audacious follow-up to her recent venture into fairy tale, Bluebeard. Breillat delves even further into the realm of childhood and myth in this entirely distinctive and constantly surprising reading of the old story. Her heroine is the young princess Anastasia (the fearless, winning Carla Besaïnou), condemned to fall asleep when pricked by a spindle. But in this version, her fate simply sends Anastasia off on a quest, in which she finds a new home and a new brother, whom she tries to rescue from the clutches of the fabled Snow Queen. Eventually, Anastasia must awake to face adulthood and the modern world. Playing flamboyantly with archetypes, anachronism and painterly imagery, this altogether dazzling film again carries overtones of Buñuel and Borowczyk, as well as painterly echoes of Sally Potter’s Orlando. But, with its entirely fluid dream logic, this is unmistakably a Breillat film, and arguably the boldest venture yet by this inimitable explorer of the mysteries of culture, sexuality and the female imagination.
Jonathan Romney (bfi.org)