Before I Go To Sleep: Movie Review
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Anne-Marie Duff
Director: Rowan Joffe
Based on the SJ Watson novel and from the writer / director of the underrated The American and Brighton Rock, comes this mind games/ head trip high concept thriller.
Kidman is Christine, a severe amnesiac, who wakes every day having had the last 24 hours of her life wiped out after a traumatic car accident, which left her battered and beaten. She wakes up each day with her husband Ben (Colin Firth), who patiently explains what's going on.
But each day, unbeknownst to Ben, Christine gets a call from a Dr Nash (soft spoken Mark Strong) who tells her to find a camera in her closet which has videos on explaining what's been happening. Along with these video diaries, Christine begins to get memories come flooding back - as the truth starts to slowly unfurl.
Recalling Memento to begin with thanks to its wall of photographs and written post-it notes around the house, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was a case of similar territory.
Essentially a three-hander, Joffe opts for a psychological build up where the pendulum of truth and mistrust swings back and forth on Ben as Christine delves deeper into her own past and makes discoveries she's not prepared for.
Kidman delivers a variety of wide-eyed and horrified and shocked looks as the various situations demand of her but just manages to convince of the emotional rollercoaster she's boarded daily. Equally, Firth goes from fully supportive to fully shifty and back again in as many turns as the movie spins on its axis. And Strong is his usual solid self as the doctor who offers help to Christine, unasked for and therefore inviting questions over his motive. But none of the actors really ever shine through; they're solid enough, but don't dazzle.
The problem comes with the denouement of this movie (don't worry, no spoiler ahead) which is somewhat inevitable given how nobody really shows their hand until late in the piece. As it's a three-hander, and based on a book, whereas the twist may be slightly more plausible on the page, it's difficult to execute on screen given that a late in the day addition would throw implausibility into the mix.
In among the maudlin and melancholic tone, Before I Go To Sleep works on the mind games front and does keep you guessing throughout, before its totally OTT ending throws any sensibility out of the window. It's a shame because the suspense built up and the back-and-forth questions are quite effective during the thriller; sadly though, the moment it ends, you're suffering from the same affliction as Christine, because it's relatively unmemorable.