30 January 2015

Review: Before I Go to Sleep (Movie)

Before I Go to Sleep (movie)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.


Kay 1/30/15, 8:30 AM  

I read the book several years ago and liked it a lot. It seems to me that she had a notebook and not a camera. Anyway, I'm interested in seeing the movie. I'll have to watch for it.

(Diane) bookchickdi 1/30/15, 8:43 AM  

I love Colin Firth too and Nicole Kidman is a wonderful actress. I didn't read the book, but want to see this movie.

bermudaonion 1/30/15, 9:16 AM  

I do like Kidman and Firth but thought the plot seemed a little loose. This sounds like it's worth renting, though.

Daryl 1/30/15, 10:18 AM  

intriguing … i loved Memento and the low budget version made before it which i cannot remember the name of …

Sheila (Bookjourney) 1/30/15, 11:20 AM  

OOH! I missed this one at the theater! My book club read this years ago.

JoAnn 1/30/15, 11:33 AM  

I'm a big Colin Firth fan, too, but missed this movie in the theaters... hope to watch it soon.

Tina 1/30/15, 11:46 AM  

I am a big fan of Colin Firth. Let me add this one to my library list!

Couscous & Consciousness 2/1/15, 3:44 AM  

I had previously read the book, and just watched the movie tonight. As invariably happens, I think the book was better, though the movie does follow the book fairly faithfully (apart from replacing Christine's notebook with a camera). I enjoyed it, and if you hadn't already read the book I think it developed enough to keep you on the edge of your seat at its climax.

Lindsay 2/3/15, 3:43 PM  

I missed it in the cinema too, so will try and get the dvd or bluray. I read the book a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. I've heard mixed reports of the film, thanks for your review.

Bree 2/19/15, 7:54 PM  

I didn't read your movie review cause I don't want to spoil watching it. But if you enjoyed the movie, I HIGHLY suggest reading the book. I read it last month. Fantastic. Had me going all through the book.

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