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April 22, 2011  | by: Brandon Kirby

Emily Browning

Emily Browning is wrapped up in a film seeming to promote controversial notions of feminism and female sexuality — and it’s not Sucker Punch.

Browning in "Sucker Punch"

In Sucker Punch‘s defense, I found a lot to like about Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, which got panned by critics not just for its anti-feminist tendencies but also for just being downright terrible. I disagree and found a lot of fascinating concepts in Snyder’s fatally flawed movie.

Most of all, Sucker Punch is a keen balance between softcore exploitation — hence all those skimpy school girl outfits — and feminist girl power, with an emphasis on the latter which only works through the inclusion of the first.

At the center of the Sucker Punch controversy is not only director Zack Snyder but actress Emily Browning who recently defended the film which many critics have vehemently labeled “sexist.”

“The sexism is within the story of the film,” Browning said. “It’s really about these girls breaking free.”

Now Emily Browning stars in the upcoming film Sleeping Beauty which is a competition selection in this year’s Cannes Film Festival happening in May.  The film, from writer-director Julia Leigh, is a modern interpretation of the classic “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale, and a dark, haunted and erotic one at that.

Browning’s character in the film is a high-end prostitute who takes a drug to put herself to sleep, allowing men to have their way with her. She then wakes in the morning without any knowledge of what could’ve happened.  As the film’s promo states: “You will go to sleep: you will wake up. It will be as if those hours never existed.”

A "Sleeping Beauty" Promo Still

It’s another film skirting the line between feminist observation and raw exploitation, and Emily Browning is again at the center. Strange that this and Sucker Punch are released in such succession and deal with similar issues. I can only figure Sleeping Beauty is going to approach its subject matter in a no less controversial manner but with more realism and a ton less sensationalism, which will inevitably work to the film’s benefit.

The trailer gives a sinister feel which opens the door for a much sharper critique of female sexuality than Sucker Punch perhaps even had the potential for, according to some critics. The parallels between the two films are hard to ignore, and I’d be curious to see how Sleeping Beauty plays out and if Browning will find herself having to defend yet another film she’s starred in.

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