Written and Directed by Julia Leigh
Cornerhouse, 15 October 2011
Rather a disturbing film, painting an uncomfortable picture of modern life.
Its subject is oblivion, oblivion as a response to the general dissatisfaction to be found in the human-wrought world. For Lucy (Emily Browning), this oblivion takes the form of alcohol, drugs and drudgery, the dehumanisation to be found in prostitution. Marriage is put out there as a possibility (or a joke), but eventually she settles on sleep. It ticks all the boxes, though there is the problem that you eventually have to wake up. Suicide might be a better option.
There are some titillating scenes involving scantily-clad young women dressed in fetish clothing, but the true misogyny arises when Lucy is treated as a doll. It becomes quite unpleasant, so be warned.
At the end of the film, I thought of the young women to be found carved on tombs in various European cemeteries (see David Robinson’s Saving Graces for a slue of such images, or read an interesting discussion of his book here). That vibe of a beautiful woman mourning the dead, or welcoming them to the underworld – like Anubis bathing a corpse – is present also.
An uncomfortable film to watch at times, but Emily Browning’s performance is astounding. She is a hunted animal seeking release.