Review: Before I Go To Sleep
PLOT: Forty-year-old Christine (Nicole Kidman) awakens every morning with no memory of her life from her early twenties onward. Her husband, Ben (Colin Firth) tells her that she was in a car accident ten years ago that left her in her current condition, but recent work with a therapist (Mark Strong) convinces her that things may not be exactly as they seem.
REVIEW: If BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP had come out fifteen years ago it would have been a big studio movie. It’s strange how in an era of tentpoles a straight-forward thriller like this is considered an indie and one that isn’t terribly likely to drum up too much business despite the names involved. Blame a changing marketplace or the fact that it’s just not strong enough to compare to a thriller like GONE GIRL, but the fact remains BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP probably would have been a decent-sized hit in another era.
Nowadays, BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP feels somewhat disposable, with better, more sophisticated thrillers unraveling in your TV room regularly, making this feel like the kind of thing that seems destined for VOD rather than the big screen. As it is, the movie isn’t half bad. While the premise certainly isn’t new (Kidman’s character suffers from the same condition Drew Barrymore did in 50 FIRST DATES) amnesiac stories tend to lend themselves well to thrillers even if the condition isn’t quite as common as Hollywood might make you think.
As always, Nicole Kidman makes for a sympathetic lead and still happens to be drop dead gorgeous. While no longer the mega-star she was in her prime, Kidman gives the role her all and doesn’t phone it in (something she’s been guilty of in a few thrillers – most notoriously THE INVASION). She’s easy to like here, although the role winds up being little more than your typical “woman-in-jeopardy” part, without any real twists or stark drama to offset a somewhat predictable plot.
Of the cast, the one who’s probably got the most to work with is Colin Firth as Kidman’s husband, with this being a major change of pace for him. Typically he plays stuffy types. Here he gets to be alternately sympathetic and sinister; depending on what the day reveals about Christine’s past (she keeps track of it all via a video diary). Mark Strong gets the Hitchcockian part of the character who may either be a hero or a red-herring, and as usual he’s strong. Really, the performances are all pretty damn good, which I suppose should be expected given the stature of the cast. The same goes for the sleek direction by Rowan Joffe, which is classy and breezily paced at almost exactly ninety minutes.
The real problem is the story. This is based on a best-selling novel by S.J Watson, and it strikes me as another story that was likely better told on the page, where it seems the whole thing unraveled from Christine’s point of view, which is intriguing considering her condition. As a film, it’s not much more than a typical thriller, and the big twist is pretty easy to figure out (especially if you’ve seen any of the trailers).
Yet, while there’s nothing particularly special about BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP, you can’t help but admire the fact that someone out there still cares about making classy thrillers for adults even if – again – this is no GONE GIRL. It’s a pretty decent watch, and if the rumors of an early Netflix debut are true, it’s definitely worth a look.
CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...