The kind of film whose trailer insists on hinting at all the twists and turns you can expect Before I Go To Sleep does little you won’t predict from the outset. It’s the kind of film that wants to lure you in before pulling the rug from beneath your feet but in many ways you’ll feel the rug already pulled and as such the floor is only mildly slippery.
Having suffered an accident a few years prior Christine (Nicole Kidman) wakes every morning believing she is still in her early 20s. It is up to her husband Ben (Colin Firth) to help her realise that she is actually an amnesiac and in her 40s. With the help of Doctor Nasch (Mark Strong) Christine is determined to regain her memory and piece her life back together. But as Christine begins to uncover who she really was she learns that she can’t trust anyone in her life as paranoia and confusing memories surface.
Before I Go To Sleep on the surface feels like a solid little throwback to ‘90s thrillers like Malice, Fatal Attraction and Sleeping With The Enemy. There is an obvious influence of Christopher Nolan’s Memento but it never quite manages to grip in the manner a film of this ilk should.
Based on the book by S.J. Watson it feels almost too lifted from the page. A film that never excels above its airport novel read which, while it may have you turning the page, rarely has you enthralled in either character or plot. Because for the most part the film has little for you to really sink your teeth into.
It toys with ideas of how memory governs who we are and what we do but it never uses these themes as anything other than a high concept with which to keep the audience guessing. And while you might try and guess it’s always obvious there is more to Christine’s past than meets the eye. So it descends into a sub-standard Hitchcockian thriller that meanders along keeping you mildly occupied before the credits role and you struggle to remember anything of real value to recall.
The performances, as expected from a cast of this caliber, are all solid. Firth brings a nice level of weariness to his normal bumbling charm with Strong on typically engaging and ambiguous form. Kidman carries the film well but her Christine is hard to like, often over-wrought with emotion and terror there’s little for us to identify with, part of the problem being that she doesn’t know who she really is.
Essentially the thriller version of Adam Sandler vehicle 50 First Dates Before I Go To Sleep will neither sooth your dreams or inspire your nightmares. It’s a forgettable, fluffy thriller that never manages to rise above films of similar ideas but more engaging plots.