It's not accurate to call any effort by the French filmmaker Catherine Breillat slight; since rebounding from her 2004 stroke, she seems doubly committed to provoke at every turn. (Her vigor is heroic and comforting.) But it can be fairly said that Breillat's recent plunge into the gauzy weave of fairy tales—starting with 2009's Bluebeard—doesn't necessarily befit her sexual preoccupations. All she's added is a naughty wink at the anticipated innocence, whereas a contemporary movie like Fat Girl (2001) made a savage drama of real-world anxieties.
The Sleeping Beauty, based on the famous fable by Charles Perrault, is studded with images that will thrill fans of the director's perviness: languorous girl-on-girl embraces in the raw, a precocious gypsy princess with a penchant for knives (their symbolism verbally commented upon, naturally), a snow queen and a cute deer. Breillat, as always, goes her own way, but her impressionistic scenes barely cohere, even at this brief running time. You could chalk the looseness up to the dream logic of myth and, it must be added, female sexual awakening—itself something of an animated creature in Breillat's world. Yet more discipline on the page would have served her vision better.