run time: 92 mins
considered: Mystery, Thriller
director: Rowan Joffe
starring: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Ben Crompton, Anne-Marie Duff, Adam Levy, Gabriel Strong, Flynn MacArthur, Dean-Charles Chapman
movie summary: Memory loss can be a serious problem. This particular life problem occurs later in life for some people or can happen at anytime when a traumatic event happens. Christine (Nicole Kidman) is just your everyday average girl who lives in a beautiful home with her loving husband Ben (Colin Firth). Our first impression of their relationship is they are madly in love with one another thanks to a collage of pictures in the bathroom. The only problem with these labeled pictures is they are there to help Christine remember who she is. Everyday Ben gets up, makes breakfast, explains their love story to Christine, and leaves for work at the local school. As soon as Ben drives away the phone rings and Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong) calls Christine to remind her about a digital camera hidden in her closet. This camera is vital to her progress because she’s been instructed to record her memories from the previous day and replay them the next morning.
This is Christine’s life every day for years. Ben has tried to contact numerous doctors and Christine has been put through a lot of tests but to no avail. Dr. Nasch has secretly been working with her every day with the hope to find one strain of her memory and build upon it. The pair go for a drive to a few places in relation to her accident in accordance with the police reports. None of these trips trigger any memories until one night she has a nightmare about a guy named Michael. Dr. Nasch tries his best to work this new development but has nothing. He looks through her files while she begins to ask more questions about her life and marriage. The doctor avoids telling her the bad news but she insists on taking in everything she can before she goes to bed.
Christine was a mother who lost her son to an illness at the young age of nine. Ben divorced her shortly after she got injured but came back when their son was dying. Her lack of memory was really hard on his abilities to take care of his son, so he thought it was best to leave and not have to tell her every day about their son. When she confronts Ben at dinner, he gets furious and hits her. She can’t believe that he would be so cruel but then forgives him because she knows he suffers every morning when he has to recap their relationship and life together. Ben leaves Christine and Dr. Nasch calls to check in like always. When he learns about the slap he warns Christine to record herself with a red cheek and that she can’t trust him anymore.
Ben learns that Dr. Nasch has been working with Christine and threatens him off. Christine meanwhile reconnects with an old friend named Claire (Ann-Marie Duff) who hasn’t seen her in about six years. The ladies share a coffee by the river and the stories come out about their lives since the accident. Christine gets some startling news about Ben and Dr. Nasch which leaves her to wonder who she can trust. Time is running out on the day and Christine needs to record her daily memories so she can pick up the trail the following day.
my thoughts: Before I Go to Sleep is billed as a tense British thriller that is meant to keep you guessing until the end. In defense of the movie and story, it is not really thrilling or fast paced for about two-thirds of the movie, but does pick up speed with a shocking plot twist that unravels everything we know. I thought the ending and the 15-20 minutes leading up to it was the best part of the movie and made it worth the watch. The rest of the build up was really uneventful and was a drag with the same repetitive day by day routine.
Nicole Kidman really put a lot of effort into her Christine character. I can’t imagine how you could study to play such a role but she is so believable. Through blood and tears, Kidman makes us feel bad for Christine every day by rehearing all the hardships she’s encountered over the course of her life. It is kind of hard to believe that there is no real leads in her case, which is the result of a harsh beating that left her for dead in an airport parking lot. I would think the police would have done some investigating and considering she was found with no clothes, could have had at least a suspect or something. That lack of evidence is what leads Mark Strong’s Dr. Nasch to come into the picture.
He comes across as very shady since he only calls when Ben isn’t around and keeps a lot of information from Christine. Thanks to the police reports he leads her through the events of her accident, but acts like he knew exactly what happened. When he realizes that Ben may cause some ripples in his treatments, he tries to fill her head with the idea she can’t trust him. That leads us to re-evaluate Ben for a moment. Played by the ever versatile Colin Firth, Ben is the guy every girl hopes she marries, the one who will stick by her side no matter what obstacle comes into their life. But on the flip side most people know through movies, tv series, or real life not every nice person is as nice as they appear to be. He has spent a lot of time taking care of his wife and telling her the same stories over and over again, reliving the pain of the struggles on a daily basis. When she begins to regain a strain of her memory, Ben feels threaten to everything he’s built up and tries his best to put an end to all of her progress and claim it was all done to protect her from herself.
I thought both guys put in solid performances, as they attempt to extract the same valuable information from one helpless mind. After watching the trailer for this film I didn’t have any expectations and someone told me they thought this movie was another version of 50 First Dates. You’d be right to have low to no expectations but this is not a rom-com by any means. This past summer I watched a movie called Trance with Rosario Dawson and James McAvoy and felt that this film would be similar but it wasn’t that either. Just when you think you know this movie, the story, and the ending, be prepared for a twist that you won’t see coming.
my final thoughts: Before I Go to Sleep is not the best thriller out in theatres right now. My advice is to go see Gone Girl or The Judge if you want to be left on the edge of your seat until the very end. I wouldn’t recommend paying full price to watch this film and would tell you to wait to rent it at home or search for it on Netflix.
my star rating: 5 out 10
imdb: 6.3 out 10
rottentomatoes: 36% out 100%
rogerebert: 1 out 4