‘Before I Go To Sleep’ review: Thrilling enough, but wait and rent

Published 8:58 am Friday, November 14, 2014

by Lauren Bradshaw

I know what you’re thinking, “Yet another movie about an amnesiac who is trying to piece together his/her life?!” Yes, this is another one of those amnesia movies.

However, fantastic performances from Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Mark Strong, as well as a few surprising twists, help “Before I go To Sleep” (based on a novel of the same name) overcome its eye-roll inducing premise. Although this isn’t a movie I would suggest you run out to theaters to see, it’s definitely worth a Redbox/Netflix rental.

A cross between “50 First Dates” (without all of the happiness) and “Memento,” the story begins with Christine (Kidman) waking up in bed next to a man she doesn’t know, having no recollection of her past. She walks to the bathroom and sees a layout of pictures showing her life with this mysterious man, her apparent husband Ben (Firth). Ben explains that Christine was in a car accident, which caused amnesia. Her short-term memory is reset every night so when she awakes, she thinks she is in her early 20s.

After Ben leaves for work, Christine receives a phone call from Dr. Nash (Strong) reminding her that she has been secretly seeing him for the past few weeks without her husband’s knowledge. As it turns out, Christine created a video diary, filming herself each night before bed. In the tapes, she reveals that Ben may not be as trustworthy as he seems, especially since he lied to her about what caused her amnesia. However, as new information continues to come to light each day, Christine’s alliances start to shift. Maybe Ben was just trying to protect her and is Dr. Nash as trustworthy as he seems? Who can she trust and what will it take to finally figure out her past?

Strong performances from the cast are the backbone of this film. While I won’t give too much away, Kidman does a phenomenal job portraying a woman on the edge. Kidman’s ability to make Christine relatable, as well as her inherent charisma, makes the film’s more brutal scenes even harder to watch. Strong and Firth also excel at teetering on the edge of sketchy and likeable, an important element in films that have you guessing, “Is this the actual bad guy or a red herring?”

Even those that dislike “Before I Go To Sleep” will have to admit that it isn’t boring, and at times it will even have you on the edge of your seat. In fact a few jump scares sent a woman sitting behind me into hysterics (though I think that may be a little more about her issues than the film). In terms of weaknesses, my main criticism is that this is the type of movie you have to “go with,” meaning you need to accept that some of the plot points are borderline preposterous. However, as long as you go in realizing what you’re getting yourself into, you’ll be okay.

“While Before I Go To Sleep” is by no means the best psychological thriller I have ever seen, but it is certainly not a stinker. Along with the excellent performances, the film was entertaining enough to keep my attention for 90 minutes and had a few amusing lines sprinkled throughout. Again, don’t rush out to theaters to see the film, but if you’re in the mood for a psychological thriller when you’re perusing the Redbox machine, give it a go.

My Review: B-/B

LAUREN BRADSHAW grew up in Courtland, graduated from Southampton Academy and doubled-majored in foreign a airs and history at the University of Virginia. She lives in the Washington, D.C., and can be reached at lnb5e@virginia.edu.