Director: Rowan Joffe
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Anne-Marie Duff
Christine (Kidman) suffers from amnesia. Every night when she goes to sleep she forgets what she learned that day. However, as she attempts to retrieve her memories certain truths come to let that force her to question everything around her. Her husband, Ben, (Firth) tries to be supportive but he’s overwhelmed by how hard it is, and yet she’s not sure she can trust him. She’s also seeing Dr. Nash (Strong) but does he have an ulterior motive?
Paranoia and tension are rampant in this psychological thriller. Amnesia is a pretty easy way to hook the audience as they’re instantly in the same position as the protagonist, and this film is really fast-paced and doesn’t give much chance for the audience to breathe. Kidman is great in this role and she recaptures the talent that has been missing from some of her recent films, and is backed up ably by Firth and Strong, who both give sinister, yet sometimes sympathetic, performances.
I liked how the two relationships were unpeeled and we discovered the true nature along with Christine. There were plenty of surprises and suspicion bounced off both Ben and Dr. Nash in a way that keeps the audience and Christine guessing. I thought the mystery was played out well and the ultimate revelation made sense. It wasn’t a cop out at all, and it was completely satisfying.
There’s bags of tension, and at times I was shocked to the edge of my seat. My only quibble is with something that I can’t really talk about because it would ruin the film, but it annoyed me a lot and struck me as ridiculous, and I’m sure if you watch it you’ll know what I’m talking about it. But I really enjoyed the film, I thought everyone’s motivations and actions made sense, there were multiple layers of deception that created a good mystery, and it’s set at such a pace that while you can ponder the truth the film doesn’t settle enough to allow you examine all the clues closely.
I’m really impressed by Before I Go to Sleep. If you want a sinister mystery with strong performances you can do a lot worse than checking this out.