4. The Beginning
In the beginning of the film, it's the voice-over of Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) that acts as the introduction to this new world - she herself tells herself that angels come in many forms, even little girls. Obviously this represents Babydoll, a perfect, idealised symbol for Sweet Pea: an attractive blonde who battles against her demons and who has lost her sister in the past. Even the very beginning of the film backs up this theory - the theatre curtains lift, the voice-over begins and even Babydoll's bedroom is literally being set up on a stage, the backstage visible from the side of the set. The whole thing is a play, a stage, a tale that Sweet Pea is involved in at the very core. The first time we actually see Sweet Pea is in the brothel when she's dressed and playing as Babydoll, literally portraying the role she assumed. From then on, Babydoll acts as Sweet Pea's internal guide and avatar or proxy: brave and courageous where she is weak and a leader when she is afraid to move on and change. Sweet Pea's appearances in the film are her true self, the frightened sister unwilling to move on from change. The first appearance of Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino), the asylum's psychiatrist and the brothel's madam, leads Gorski to suggest that Sweet Pea must 'let go' of the troubles surrounding her and enters her fantasy landscape where she can control the world. In this, Gorski is suggesting the entire hidden meaning of the film to us - that this is all Sweet Pea's dreamscape, rather than Babydoll's, and her journey through psychotherapy.