Before I Go To Sleep

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This is one of those movies where somebody calls me a few years from now and says, “Is ‘Before I Go to Sleep’ worth seeing?” I won’t have a clue what it was. You see, just like the premise of the movie – a woman wakes up each morning not remembering the previous day, I barely remembered it the next day. I doubt I will remember it a year from now.

It’s that convenient movie dilemma. Jimmy Kimmel made fun of Nicole Kidman about it last week, saying, “People always have amnesia in movies, but I’ve never met anybody, or even anybody that knows somebody that suffered from it.”

Yet just like the premise of Memento, she needs to start documenting things, because there are a few men in her life that she’s not sure she can trust. One is the guy she wakes up next to (haven’t we all woken up next to somebody we don’t remember?). It’s her co-star from The Railway Man earlier this year. He explains he’s her husband, shows her the photo albums of their life together, and talks about the accident she had.

Mark Strong, always a strong presence on screen, calls her that morning after hubby goes off to work. He tells her she has a video camera hidden in the closet and he wants her to watch what she has documented from the previous day. He claims to be her doctor and is working on her memory loss with her.

This is based on the S.J. Watson  bestselling novel from 2011, and I’m guessing writer/director Rowan Joffe thought it would be in the tradition of a Hitchcock thriller; but let me tell you a little about Joffe. He wrote the incredibly boring George Clooney movie The American, and wrote and directed the disappointing Brighton Rock. This film isn’t boring, but it’s very disappointing and highly implausible on many levels.

It’s surprising how little tension there is as we find out more of Kidman’s back-story and the details of the accident that caused the memory loss.

There are a few interesting things. I enjoyed how Firth explains to Kidman what has happened. It’s in a tone that suggests he’s had to tell her this story every morning for the last few years and has grown tired of it all; or you wonder, if he’s possibly hiding something. You wonder why he isn’t a bit more patient and loving. He doesn’t seem to realize after doing this each day, that she’s going to cringe when he goes in for that kiss before heading off to work; and she won’t feel so comfortable if he wants to jump in the shower with her that night.

A few things I can say without spoiling anything: Kidman learns that it wasn’t an accident, but a brutal attack that caused her injuries. She also finds out she had a best friend (Anne-Marie Duff), and she had a child.

It’s fun watching her start to fall for her doctor, because anybody that’s seen more than a handful of movies (or any of Mark Strong’s other movies), will think he’s creepier than the caring doctor he claims to be. That’s really all that can be said about any of these characters without giving away things.

So what you have is a movie that has a few twists, and very few moments of tension. Yet there are flaws in the logic, and you don’t buy the actions taken by many of the characters, especially in the third act, where they become preposterous.

Two Oscar winners were wasted.

This gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.


  • bob pearl

    Well I would expect you to downsize another one. I liked it as I have never seen Colin in another role other than a kings speech or as a proper english person. Him being the bad guy was very powerful and well received. I enjoyed it very much but then i dont have all this vast knowledge of the past so I can watch a film and not judge it by all the past mistakes or whatever it is that critics use to hardly like anything,lol

  • Josh Board

    Bob…one thing you need to do (and a lot of other critics should), is watch that you don’t post anything that spoils things in the film. For example, who said Firth was a “bad guy”? See what I mean?

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