With The Sleeping Beauty, Catherine Breillat (Blue Beard, Fat Girl) creates another stark and modern adaption of a well-known fairy tale. As usual, Breillat's classic style offers a no-frills, thought-provoking interpretation that takes a magnifying glass to the psyche of young women, and in opposition to Hollywood style over-workings, relies upon good storytelling rather than special effects to carry the film.

Breillat's treatment of the dreaming debutante is strictly adult, summoning hints to sexual undertones early on, from the heroine's insistence on casting off her feminine attributes by demanding that she be called Vladimir, to the overtly sexual coming of age presented in the film's awakening finale.

Anastasia is cursed by a bad fairy to die young from a fatal prick on the finger, but three of the bad fairy’s much kinder counterparts intervene, changing the curse to a sleep of a hundred years. During the time that Anastasia succumbs to slumber, she wanders a land of grotesque dungeon guard keepers, is adopted into a family and meets Peter, the first object of her affection, only to lose him to a Hans Christian Andersen-esque snow queen detour. She spends the rest of her dream-life on a quest to find him yet again, joining forces with a tough gypsy girl before venturing across an Arctic landscape by reindeer. Carla Besnaïnou is impressive as the young Anastasia, her screen presence is utterly huge.

At last she emerges from her slumber 100 years later and finds herself in the care of her beloved Peter’s great-grandson, Johan. Now fully adult and fully awake, she is forced into a sexual awakening, a rapid coming of age, as she slowly adapts to her matured body in a highly symbolic fashion, taking days to unbutton her ancient gown, much to Johan’s chagrin.

Scenes within Breillat’s The Sleeping Beauty leave a lasting impression, however, the film suffers from a nearly excruciating disjointed structure that often jars the viewer out of the suspended reality. Pointless scenes unfold without reason, perhaps summoning that wandering subconscious dreamscape but nevertheless grow tiresome at times. Where the film collapses is in its final scenes, with the return of the gypsy girl, now also grown and inexplicably bent on sexual relations with Anastasia. The culmination of events seems forced and although arresting in theory, is not carried out as poignantly as Breillat’s other work. Still, The Sleeping Beauty is a dream and worth your attention.

Grade: B+

The Sleeping Beauty releases in select theaters July 29.