DIR: Rowan Joffe • WRI: Thomas McCarthy • PRO: Mark Gill, Avi Lerner, Liza Marshall, Matthew O’Toole, Ridley Scott • DOP: Ben Davis • ED: Melanie Oliver • DES: Kave Quinn • MUS: Ed Shearmur • Cast: Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Anne-Marie Duff
Rowan Joffes adaptation of S.J. Watson’s bestseller Before I Go To Sleep uses the same premise as Mememto and Fifty First Dates, one a thriller the other a romantic comedy. I love how pliable a premise can be.
Christine (Kidman) wakes up every day with no idea who she is, her memory robbed because of a car accident ten years earlier; according to her husband Ben (Firth), a ‘stranger’ she has been living with for a long time. Imagine how worn out he has been explaining her predicament every day for all this time, even if he was lying he’d start to believe it himself. Kidman accepts this scenario, until Dr Nash (Strong) enters the picture, a psychologist who has a different story to tell. So somebody is telling porkies. Christine doesn’t know who to trust and has to learn the truth whilst struggling with her memory problem; a bit like Guy Pearce in Memento, only instead of a succession of tattoos to help aid her detective mission she relies on Post-it notes and video recordings.
Essentially a three hander, with Kidman worrying who is the villain of the two male leads, Before I Go To Sleep builds some interesting tension and keeps you guessing, but when all the cards are finally played, it breaks under the weight of its own expectations. lso, its familiarity is distracting. Apart from the films mentioned already, it also riffs off Hitchcock’s Notorious. And why not? But despite some solid work from those involved on screen, and Joffe as director, the script does not hold onto you because of the very nature of those comparisons – or perhaps I just watch too many films. Strong gets the terrible task of being Mr Exposition once too often and Kidman seems to be going through the A,B,Cs that she used as far back as Dead Calm, don’t get me wrong, she is a fine actor. Firth (for some reason of my own, not one of my favourite actors) does a version of Firth.
Joffe holds the reins adequately enough, but his clunky script replete with plot holes and similarities to other films may make it too distracting and derivative for audiences to buy into its ideas, or as I said, maybe I just watch too many movies.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Before I Go To Sleep is released 5th September