BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP
By Gary Murray
Starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong
Written and directed by Rowan Joffe
Running time 92 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Cable
Nicole Kidman is a movie star among movie stars. Over the years she has been in such films as Australia, Eyes Wide Shut, and Moulin Rouge! She can do drama and comedy, both singing and acting on screen. She is both an independent darling and a blockbuster maven. In her latest, she plays a crime victim. It is Before I go to Sleep.
The film opens with a middle-aged woman Christine (Nicole Kidman) waking next to a man she does not recognize. She goes into the bathroom and there are all these photos of her and the man from their wedding. Christine is looking at pictures of strangers.
Stepping back into the bedroom the man introduces himself as Ben (Colin Firth) and he is her husband. It seems that she was in an accident and lost her memory many years ago. Every day, she believes she is in her twenties when in fact she’s in her forties. There is no short-term memory.
Later in the day, she gets a phone call from a Doctor Nasch (Mark Strong). He wants to help her with her problem. He meets her and gives her a camera with a video feature. The doctor wants her to record her daily thoughts in a hope that it will jog her memory. She wants to keep this video diary a secret from Ben.
At first, she remembers that she had a friend Claire (Anne-Marie Duff). Ben tells her that the two became estranged after her accident. That idea just doesn’t feel right to Christine. She feels that Claire would not abandon the woman.
Slowly, Christine begins to believe that something is just not right with her relationship with Ben. The paranoia of not remembering begins to take a toll as images from the night of her injury start to come to the forefront of her conscious. She also begins to realize that at one time she was pregnant but has no memory of her child.
Before I go to Sleep twists and turns as Christine begins to piece together her former life and the truth behind her injury. Nothing or nobody is exactly who they turn out to be by the end of the film. It tries to build to a surprise ending that spews gallons of blood, violent to the point of being disturbing. It also has plot holes so big one can lose an 18-wheeler in the divot.
Nicole Kidman has been brilliant in so many different roles but this film feels as if she were slumming. She won an Oscar for The Hours and should have won for Moulin Rouge! This role is no where near those performances. While she can play these types of roles in her sleep, she doesn’t give us much more than a static reading. The ending tears feel faked. One expects something more from her performance.
Colin Firth is just brilliant as Ben. This is definitely a stretch for the actor, playing a character with multiple layers who may not be as perfect as he first lets on. It shows that he can be a strong character actor as much as a movie star. It is the single best reason to see the film.
Rowan Joffe is the writer behind 28 Weeks Later and The American. Before I go to Sleep is a step into the director’s chair for the man. While he gets some great performances from his actors, he doesn’t have much of a screenplay to work with. Time and time again, it feels as if he is padding his movie, just to get it to the 90 minute mark.
The film is a cross between 50 First Dates and Memento but not as good as either film. It is not a horror film but is being marketed that way. It is much more of a mild thriller with some great actors working below their potential.