Adapted by Rowan Joffe from S.J. Watson’s novel, Before I go to Sleep is a psychological thriller starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, & Mark Strong.
Premise: A woman wakes up every day, remembering nothing as a result of a traumatic accident in her past. One day, new terrifying truths emerge that force her to question everyone around her.
Review: I expected to be disappointed with this movie because the premise is, to put it nicely, not original. It’s basically Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler’s 50 first dates gone wrong with mysteries and suspense in it, well a least they tried. A serious version of sorts, which is why I didn’t rush to see it but in the end it was a nice surprise.
It didn’t take long for the first memories to come back, which a good thing when you deal with such an original story. Jokes aside I really started to relax when Christine (Kidman) started to experience flashbacks but all I could think about was she better write this down or record it otherwise she’ll forget. I had to put myself in Christine’s shoes to see this movie through. Some of her decisions sort of made sense to me, when she wakes up everyday, not remembering a thing, next to a ruggedly handsome man (Colin Firth) in a strange place, why freak out? He’s good looking, you apparently had a good time and probably way too much to drink but it’s OK.
To be fair, she didn’t freak out she looked mildly worried but when she went to the bathroom and saw the collage of pictures and sticky notes there to remind her who she is and who the guy is, I would have freaked out then, hyperventilating, panic attack, a huge what the fuck moment but again she was mildly surprised. Ben (Colin Firth) then explained her amnesia and what happened to her and everything was fine. I guess even if you’re an amnesic, you know if you’re in immediate danger or not so her reaction probably makes sense. I, paranoid, not trusting person, would have never fully trusted someone I did not remember no matter the amount of pictures of us.
The movie backtracks the initial scene with a long flashback that starts two weeks prior the first scene. The dumbest of my friends did not realize it lasted for so long. When you have a fucked up memory like Dory in Finding Nemo, you’re unable to connect the dots and know when that flashback is over. It is a critical point in the movie because if you don’t notice there’s very little chance you’ll like the film.
So the movie backtracks Christine’s steps leading up to the very day, the turning point in her life. The pace is slow, maybe too slow but bearable, and is suppose to make the audience suspicious of everyone because it’s filled with suspicious people! The Doctor (Mark Strong), the best friend (Anne-marie Duff). It was unnecessary. I was already suspicious, remember? I trust no one, so it was a bit too much. Anyway it came to the very last event preceding the first scene and I was “surprised”, I mean I was thinking Not bad.
In the end, I felt like Christine, taken advantage of, duped and I think that’s what the film makers were going for. We are put in Christine’s shoes and there’s very little information we know that she doesn’t, because she keeps forgetting.
The familiar premise and the pace of the movie are what hurts the film most. The performances are good, these are talented actors, Nicole Kidman is believable in the amnesiac searching for a her past, Colin Firth’s history with romantic comedy, his lovable trustworthy face and acting chops can only help him in this role, and finally Mark Strong as the weirdest doctor ever is good.
Before I Go To Sleep, reeks of déjà-vu but it’s not so bad, they had the good sense to make it short. Now about this movie, was it any good? Is the plot too familiar? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or tweet @wornoutspines
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