Review: Before I Go to Sleep

Before I Go To Sleep_DVD_2DPackStudioCanal, out January 12

If you have to rely on someone telling you who you are, you need to really trust them…

Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth are the husband and wife who are definitely putting the “in sickness and in health” part of their marriage vows to the test. Christine Lucas is an amnesiac who wakes every morning with no memory beyond a certain point, and Ben, her husband, patiently (or sometimes, not so patiently) explains to Christine who she is, and what she needs to know to get through the day. What he’s not aware of is that Christine has been talking to someone else – Dr Nasch, a neurologist, (Mark Strong) who has been giving her some extra ways to keep track of what’s going on, and encouraging her to video her thoughts so that even if her internal memory is wiped each day, her “hard drive” is still there to be accessed. When the two sets of information Christine receives in the morning start not to tally, she – and the audience – starts to wonder exactly who she can trust.

Although I’ve had a copy of S.J. Watson’s novel in the “to be read” pile for some time now, I hadn’t had a chance to read it before seeing this film version, so can’t say how true Roland Joffe’s movie is to the original. The movie uses some horror tropes to build up the creepiness, and during the first two acts, you’re really not sure who is telling Christine the truth, and whether she is (perhaps understandably) being paranoid. The third act perhaps goes a little over the top – there’s certainly an unrestrained performance from one of the male leads – but by that point, you’re invested enough in the characters. Kidman and Firth have an adequate chemistry – and in the circumstances of the story, that’s actually all it needs – but much of the weight of the film falls on Kidman, who carries it well: many years ago, I wrote a YA biography of her, and this performance reminds me of some of her less well-known credits, such as To Die For.

Verdict: Stylishly shot, with enough twists you don’t see coming (alongside the rather predictable ones!) to make for an entertaining 90 minutes. 8/10

Paul Simpson
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