As thrillers go, “Before I Go to Sleep” isn’t particularly riveting, surprising, or suspenseful. The biggest shock it delivers is Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman actually agreed to be in this movie.
Kidman plays Christine, your typical “woman caught in a web of lies and deceit” you find in movies like this. The twist is Christine suffers from short-term memory loss, the result of a vicious attack she endured years before.
Every night when she goes to sleep, all of the memories she has formed over the course of the day disappear, and the next morning she wakes up at square one with no memory of the attack or anything else that has happened over the past 14 years.
Christine’s husband Ben (dutifully played by Firth) begins each day patiently reminding her of what has happened and of their life together, with an assist from a photo collage on their bathroom wall.
If all this wasn’t confusing enough for poor Christine, when Ben goes to work, she gets a phone call from Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong), who has been treating Christine on the sly without Ben’s knowledge.
Increasingly implausible twists and turns unfold from there as Christine attempts to piece together the scattered traces of her memory.
The memory-as-identity trope can be effective when done well (Remember “Memento?” Man, that was a great movie), but here it is used as the hokey setup for cheap scares and movie-of-the-week melodrama.
Writer/director Rowan Joffe seems to go out of his way to avoid exploring any depth in these characters and keeps the thing moving along at a nice and punchy 92 minutes.
I will say it is good to see seasoned, middle-aged actors giving this silly story their best shot as opposed to yet another examination of sexy twenty-somethings.
It is to the credit of Firth and Kidman this movie holds any credibility at all, as they are able to keep you invested in the story for a long time after logic has tapped you on the shoulder and asked “Dude, what are you doing?”
“Before I Go to Sleep” is a flimsy, disposable movie that’s only positive is it allowed a couple of decent actors to draw a paycheck.
In the long run, it’s probably best if you just go to sleep, wake up tomorrow and forget all about it.
“Before I Go to Sleep” is rated R for some brutal violence and language.