Case Study In Character Sleeping Beauties

In Karyn Kusama's Sleeping Beauties (reprinted in Appendix B), two adolescent sisters prepare for bed. They smoke a cigarette and share a fantasy about a young man on a motorbike who will come and take them away. They go to sleep. They hold hands, thereby acknowledging the love between them. Such a motorcycle rider actually does appear, and the dominant sister decides that the more modest sister should join him. She does so. The one who is left behind feels abandoned. Her sister returns. They climb into the same bed, but the dominant sister is unsettled. Was this a dream or an actual occurrence? Was it the beginning of a rift in the relationship? Is fantasy an antidote to the life they live at home?

The focus is on the two sisters. One is dominant, and the other is pliant— a leader and a follower. But what happens to the relationship when the follower leaves? Will she return? Will the roles be reversed? These are the issues that are explored in Sleeping Beauties. The male is simply "the male," but the two young women are given characters, if in a very polarized fashion. They are not fleshed out beyond those extremes. The leader initiates—smoking, ordering the pliant sister to join the bike rider—and the pliant sister does as she is told. Will this change? The ending is open-ended, unresolved, leaving us with the puzzle—will she or will she not?

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