The Australian import Girl Asleep didn’t receive a huge campaign, at least not here in the U.S. And what there was seemed intent on selling it as being spiritually akin to Wes Anderson’s tone and style, albeit with more of a fantasy twist. Unfortunately there’s not much more to it than that.
Bethany Whitmore plays Greta, a young girl about to turn 15. She’s not exactly the most popular kid at school and has to deal with the pressure from the more social girls. When her parents insist on throwing just the kind of birthday party Greta doesn’t want she finds herself whisked away into a world of fantasy where she has to grapple with her life as it is and the pains of growing up.
The movie never really gets beyond its premise to tackle anything deeper or more interesting. It seems so intent on creating a sense of mystical whimsy that there’s not much effort put into saying anything interesting about coming-of-age or teenage alienation. While Whitmore does a good job as Greta, playing her as a girl who’s just starting to assert her independence and come into her own identity, there’s nowhere for her to go in the story. She takes a few steps here and there but it never amounts to much.
Plus, the fantasy sequence, where Greta is pulled into a world of parables and analogues, amounts to almost nothing. It’s there simply because it seemed like a fun idea and provided an adequate opportunity to make Greta’s journey into a metaphor.
I’m not saying Girl Asleep isn’t worth watching. At a scant 90-some minutes it’s a decent form of entertainment. But the multiple references in the campaign to this being Anderson-esque don’t turn out to be appropriate or earned.