Memory often cheats with rose-coloured glasses obscuring the truth. Movies like Memento made a virtue of memory loss by telling gripping stories. Based on SJ Watson’s novel, Before I Go to Sleep follows the same line.
Attempting to spin a thrilling yarn, the way it uses the amnesia device is left wanting. Whilst having moments of inspiration, it is a pale imitator of better tales where memory is always subjective.
Christine (Nicole Kidman) wakes up next to a stranger. Claiming to be her husband, Ben (Colin Firth), Christine has no memory of him. Disturbed by her lack of memories, she receives treatment from Dr Nasch (Mark Strong). Hoping to regain her full faculties, as each piece of her life returns, new questions arise. Becoming suspicious of those around her, Christine learns all is not as it appears as lies and deceptions entangle her life.
Clumsily directed by Rowan Joffe, Before I Go to Sleep gives new meaning to mediocrity. Badly miscast and full of illogical plot holes, it falls under its self-inflicted burdens. You don’t believe in the characters due to an increasingly silly story and contrived atmospherics. Despite her predicament, Kidman’s character comes across as being really dumb with obvious clues ignored. This deflates any sympathy with the cast’s over-acting, turning Before I Go to Sleep into a bad cinematic pantomime.
Before I Go to Sleep has few good points with the cinematography being one. Effectively capturing the muddied world Christine tries to escape, it adds to the overall sense of danger. The orchestral score highlights this well, making the outlandish climax appear better than it is. The flaws are many with this poor adaptation doing no favours to what has been a popular book.
A pot-boiler quickly going nowhere, Before I Go to Sleep is less than scintillating. Offering evidence that a big name cast can’t save a movie without a good script, the temptation to erase this one from the memory banks would be palatable.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 3