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Movie Review: “Before I Go to Sleep” (Rated R)

Movie Review: “Before I Go to Sleep” (Rated R)

“Before I Go to Sleep” – Clarius Entertainment(NEW YORK) — Before I Go to Sleep is writer/director Rowan Joffe’s adaptation of the best-selling novel by S.J. Watson. Nicole Kidman plays Christine, a 40-something woman who wakes up one morning next to a man she doesn’t recognize, with no recollection of what happened the day before — or anything that’s happened since her early 20s.
 
The man introduces himself as Ben (Colin Firth), Christine’s husband.  Christine has amnesia, he explains, the result of a terrible accident over a year before, and her memory lasts no more than 24 hours.
 
After Ben leaves for work, Christine receives a call from Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong), a neurologist who’s been helping her recovery.  He tells her to retrieve a box from the back of her closet.  Inside is a video camera Dr. Nasch gave Christine so she can keep a daily video diary.  He also advises Christine not to tell Ben about the diary, or indeed about Dr. Nasch.
 
This form of therapy jogs Christine’s memory just enough for her to start asking Ben some uncomfortable questions. Christine’s discovered Ben has been lying about a few things, most notably that her brain injury is the result not of an accident, but of a vicious attack. Why would Ben lie to Christine about that?  More telling, what other secrets is he keeping from her?
 
In order for this movie to really work, the script needs a little more urgency and conflict. Also, Joffe had to know critics would compare Before I Go to Sleep to Christopher Nolan’s brilliant Memento from 14 years ago. Joffe clearly thought it was a risk worth taking, particularly when he scored a cast featuring two Oscar winners in Kidman and Firth, along with the outstanding Mark Strong.
 
Even so, while it doesn’t come close to matching the visceral impact of
Memento, Before I Go to Sleep does have a decent payoff — it just takes too long to get there.  Though only 92 minutes in length, it would’ve been far more engaging had it been 20 minutes shorter.
 
Two-and-a-half out of five stars.

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