Although I'm a Colin Firth fan, I missed Before I Go to Sleep in the theaters. If you were like me, then you'll be happy to know that the Blu-ray + Digital HD edition came out earlier this week.
Director Rowan Joffe wrote the screenplay based on the novel (same title) by S. J. Watson. I haven't read the book, so I can't tell you firsthand how the plots of the two media compare, but a scan of reviews tells me that the screenplay follows the book fairly closely.
First the premise of Before I Go to Sleep, then I'll give you my thoughts.
Every morning the almost forty-year-old Christine (Nicole Kidman) wakes up with no memory of what has happened to her since she was in her mid-twenties. She doesn't recognize the man, Ben, who is her husband (Colin Firth) and has no memory of their marriage. Every morning, Ben tells her that she was in an accident that left her incapable of forming new memories, and he gives her a short recap of her life. After Ben leaves for work, the phone rings, and a man who introduces himself as Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong) tells Christine to look for a camera she's hidden in her wardrobe and to play back the videos. When she does, Christine sees herself recording everything she remembers each day over the previous couple of weeks.
What she learns from her videos is that either Ben or the doctor (or both) have hidden the truth from her. She also realizes that she can't quite figure out which of the men is really trying to help her, and she doesn't know how to regain her memory.
The idea behind Before I Go to Sleep is good (although not original). It's hard to imagine how scary it would be to wake up every single day with no memory of the day before, and thus it's an excellent foundation for a psychological thriller. Kidman does a great job with the mix of fear, confusion, and dependency that an amnesia patient must feel. In addition, both Firth and Strong hit the mark of nice but not too nice / trustworthy but not really, so that we're not initially sure which of them has Christine's best interests at heart.
Unfortunately, I found the setup of the major action to be a bit slow. It felt like a long time before the heart of the thriller began to take shape and we could see the depth of Christine's situation. I also had some questions about Christine's memories. For example, she seemed a little too comfortable with the digital camera, which would have been new to her every morning.
On the other hand, the solid performances by Firth and Kidman are well worth seeing, despite the weaknesses of the screenplay. If you're fan of either Oscar winner or of Mark Strong, then you'll want to see Before I Go to Sleep. Just keep in mind that it will take a while before the story comes together.
The Blu-ray edition contains several bonus features, including in-depth looks into the three main characters: Christine, Ben, and Dr. Nasch. You'll also get a key code for the digital HD edition, so you can watch the movie on any almost any device.
Thanks to Think Jam and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment for a review copy of the Blu-Ray / Digital HD edition of the movie.