Movie Review: Before I Go To Sleep

Before I Go To Sleep

Release Date: October 31st 2014
Director: Rowan Joffe
Writers: Rowan Joffe (screenplay), S. J. Watson (novel)
Main Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong
Genres: Mystery | Thriller
MPAA Rating: Rated R for some brutal violence and language
Studio: Clarius Entertainment

Official Sites: Web | Facebook | IMDb | Twitter

Synopsis: A taut thriller based on the worldwide best-selling novel by S.J. Watson, BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP is the story of a woman (Nicole Kidman) who wakes up every day with no memory as the result of a traumatic accident in her past. One day, terrifying new truths begin to emerge that make her question everything she thinks she knows about her life - as well as everyone in it, including her doctor (Mark Strong) and even her husband (Colin Firth).

Before I Go to Sleep is a psychological thriller based on the 2011 novel by the same name. The novel is authored by S.J. Watson and has been called a “world-wide bestseller.” The film stars Hollywood heavyweights Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong. I refer to it as a “psychological thriller” because that is what it is supposed to be, but it is not so much a “thriller” as much as it is a puzzle with all the corners already fit into place. We know what is going to be the end-product, but it is still fun to assemble and we are happy when the finished puzzle looks just like what we thought in the beginning.

In the film, Christine (Kidman) awakens panicked and afraid. She is unfamiliar with her surroundings and her company, a man by the name of Ben (Firth). It is through Ben that Christine learns that she was in a car accident ten years ago and that she is an amnesiac, who has to be reminded every day whom she is married to and what her age is, 40. Her brain re-sets every night. Every morning she wakes thinking she is a graduate student in her twenties. At the moment when Christine begins to accept her predicament, the phone rings. Dr. Nasch (Strong) is calling to remind Christine that he is treating her amnesia. She should find a hidden camera and, then, call him back. Nothing is as it seems.

In order to get the audience to fill-in the gaps of Christine’s memory, it is necessary to flash back and forward repeatedly. Some are traditional flashbacks, while others come across as muddled memories. The effect is easy to follow in this film. It is as if the viewer has a first-person perspective. Viewers see only what Christine sees and know only what Christine knows. My only concern about Christine is that the panic and frenzy from the beginning of the film turns into determination and stoicism. The leap is too fast in a movie that is as short as this is.

That criticism aside, it is not a horrible film. But, the book was probably better. The film comes across as predictable. That is why I referred to is as a semi-complete puzzle. In the first few minutes of the film, everyone knows how it is going to end. But we assemble the puzzle nonetheless. Kidman, Firth and Strong all have solid performances, though not one that would qualify the film as a show stopper or an award-winner. See if for date night or girls’ night. See it because it’s Halloween and you are too afraid of full-blown horror flicks. Or see it because you like puzzles. Just do not expect to be blown away. Before I Go to Sleep opens Friday, October 31st.

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