Before I Go to Sleep (2014) / Thriller-Mystery
MPAA Rated: R for some brutal violence and language
Running Time: 92 min.
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Forth, Mark Strong, Anne-Marie Duff
Director: Rowan Joffe
Screenplay: Rowan Joffe
Review published November 3, 2014
Immediately after viewing this film, in which a woman wakes up every morning with no recollection of what she did the day before, I thought what a wonderful notion it might be if I were to wake up and not remember Before I Go to Sleep. Alas, it didn't happen, hence this review.
Nicole Kidman (The Railway Man, Stoker) stars as Christine Lucas, who wakes up in the morning with no recollection of where she is, how she got there, or the identity of the strange man in her bed. "I'm your husband, Ben", says the character played by Colin Firth (Magic in the Moonlight, The King's Speech), who must go through this ritual every morning before going to work because his wife can't remember anything when she wakes up every day. Like clockwork every day, Chris also receives a phone call from a man representing himself as Dr. Nasch (Strong, Zero Dark Thirty), her neural psychologist who has been having her record whatever she thinks is worth remembering into a camera to which she will watch every day in order to have some form of memory, even if it doesn't come from her own mind. She soon discovers that Ben isn't always on the up and up with her, which makes her not trust him, especially since she has a vague memory of the attack that caused her to lose her memory many years before.
Decent performances can't save a mystery that has to thread a very fine needle of contrivances, one of which is that we're supposed to buy the notion that such an implausible series of circumstances would continue over the course of many years. If I were one do discuss spoilers, I'd be happy to rip this film apart, but you'll likely be doing the same if you're unfortunate enough to give this one a go.
One non-spoilery contrivance is having Dr. Nasch call every day right after Ben goes to work in order to tell Christine where to find her camera and how to use it. One would presume that Ben doesn't go to work every day, so what would Dr. Nasch do then, especially as he is calling the house line? And what if Ben takes a sick day, or they go on holiday? And, if no one, including Ben, but Christine knows about Dr. Nasch's visits, just who is paying for the sizeable expense of daily calls and frequent visits from one of the country's top neural psychologists?
I'm a bit handcuffed by the film's mystery, so I won't say much more. Once you find out just what's going on, you'll probably laugh at all of the absurd ways Rowan Joffe (The American, 28 Weeks Later), who is not very faithfully adapting the novel by S.J. Watson, has to contort the plot in order to get us all the way to the ridiculous climax that is supposed to be exciting and revelatory, when all of the while it is quite depressing and only raises more questions than answers.
The film was released in the United States on Halloween, but I don't think that it's because it is particularly scary, despite use of annoying jump-scares. My best guess is that with Thanksgiving fast approaching, the studio must be thinking that people might really want to sink their teeth into a turkey, so they are only happy to oblige. No need to sleep to forget; the memory of this one doesn't linger long past the credit roll.
P.S., if you still intend to see the film after my less-than-flattering review, don't read the IMDB cast credits before watching, as it contains potential spoilers.
©2014 Vince Leo