Before I Go To Sleep Blu-ray Review
What would you do if you awoke every morning unable to remember where you are, or who is in bed next to you; and when you look in the mirror and you find yourself aged beyond comprehension? This is the dilemma facing our main character, Christine, in BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP. Every day she awakens believing she is still in her twenties, unsure what is happening until she discovers the labeled photos in the bathroom to which she escapes. The photos tell her story, a clever bit of exposition if it hadn’t been lifted from both the brilliant MEMENTO and the less brilliant (but way more fun), saccharine-sweet 50 FIRST DATES.
Christine is played by Nicole Kidman, recalling the same general character she evoked in 2001’s THE OTHERS. This thriller calls to mind the same general structure of the aforementioned MEMENTO though it is told in a much more conventional manner. Christine has discovered that something about her life, from what little she has been able to piece together in spite of her condition, just isn’t adding up. Her husband, Ben (played by Colin Firth, most recently seen in MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT) is clearly tortured by Christine’s condition but we start learning quickly about the lies he has told to make things easier on Christine and on himself.
The problem is the lies keep growing in size. Christine doesn’t trust Ben and she begins to discover a mountain of evidence suggesting her life with Ben isn’t at all what she thinks, nor what he wants her to believe. Chrstine has also connected with a psychoanalyst, Dr. Nash, who has been attempting to help her recover her memory. She is hiding this from Ben, of course, because she seems to believe he wouldn’t be able to handle it. I questioned this motivation for a good 2/3 of the movie and found it difficult to root for Christine in this whole situation. Part of this is because Ben is written so sympathetically (at first), but part of it has more to do with both supporting actors charisma. Both Colin Firth and Mark Strong (who plays Dr. Nash) are imminently more likeable and relatable, for some reason, than Christine.
But of course, as with the most basic of thriller tropes, neither of them is what they seem either. This isn’t to say that anything they do is particularly creepy or bad (though it might be), but I don’t really feel like it’s giving anything away because BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP telegraphs just about every beat well before ‘the reveal’ moment(s). The only thing that is truly captivating about BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP, in fact, is filmmaker Rowan Joffe’s (or perhaps his Director of Photography, more likely) choices for coloring and shooting the film. Visually, like Joffe’s earlier films THE AMERICAN and 28 WEEKS LATER, BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP conveys through it’s use of color and shot selection the detached way with which Christine likely has had to deal with the world since suffering her ailment. It’s quite a trick and not something I expected in the least, but it does not save the film.
Amnesia stories are always difficult, particularly when they remind you in a very non-subtle way of an Adam Sandler movie. Still, I guess it’s good that it reminds me of one of his better films. Regardless, BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP fails to connect with the viewer in even the most superficial of ways. Perhaps this is because of Kidman, who has shown less ability to carry a film on her own since MOULIN ROUGE and THE OTHERS. Regardless, though, the film does a disservice to the amazing talent they have in front of the camera, making this one movie I would avoid with prejudice.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.39:1) The film has some beautiful, cold imagery that immerses the viewer in the dispassionate way Christine likely views this very alien world each day, but it doesn’t keep BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP from being just another thriller.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio on BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP is competently presented though it isn’t anything special.
Character Illusions: Three incredibly short ‘special features’ that are basically teasers for BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP, each one focusing on a character and featuring about 2 lines from an interview with the corresponding actor. Not worth the time to load.
Ben (00:47), Christine (00:47), Dr. Nash (00:50)
Forget Me Not (02:26) Another short feature, this one contains slightly more information in its whopping two and a half (nearly) minutes. All of the special features on BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP resemble varying degrees of trailer rather than actual looks at the filmmaking process or showing us anything that happened on set.
Rounding out the incredibly disappointing “extras” on BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP is the Theatrical Trailer (02:07) and an UltraViolet DigitalHD Digital Copy of the film.