Nicole Kidman     Colin Firth     Mark Strong     Anne-Marie Duff


 Imagine having to learn everything you knew all over again each day, even your name, age, and who your husband is, and you will have some idea of the amnesia Christine (Kidman) is coping with in Before I go to Sleep.  The film opens with Christine waking up just like that, and she is frightened.  Her husband Ben (Firth) patiently explains each day what has happened to her (she was in an accident, he says), and leaves a board in the kitchen that indicates where things are in the house, what she needs to do, etc.

 Intrigue enters the picture when a neuropsychologist (Strong) starts to work with her surreptitiously and she begins to suspect that Ben is not being open and honest with her.  Dr. Nasch picks her up at her home each morning after Ben leaves for work, and uses techniques to increase her memory, such as having her record into a camera each day and showing her pictures while she is in an imaging device to see which photographs prompt a brain response indicating memory.  

 Their efforts prompt the name and image of an old friend, Claire (Duff), and Christine manages to make contact with her.  She will be very helpful in filling in some of the blanks in Christine’s past.  Eventually, she will get the whole truth, but it will be very difficult and painful getting there.

 Much of this film should not be taken seriously; that is, the depiction of amnesia is not valid, nor are the techniques used by the neuropsychologist, but that is not likely to be bothersome to most viewers.  What will most likely be picked up on are holes in the plot, and radical changes in the characters that are vastly different from their initial presentation without explanations of how they transpired along the way.  But as a light thriller, the film could be enjoyable to many.

 Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth are actors who bring their characters very much alive for the audience, and Kidman is especially adept at portraying someone who looks alternately mystified, anxious, and enlightened.  Most of Firth’s role is one that fits very well his previous work in portraying someone who is reassuring, caring, and devoted; but who can also show impatience and extreme frustration.  Strong’s neuropsychologist is well acted; I just had some problems with the lines that were written for him.

 The film relies on cheesy manipulations, such as sudden loud noises and a character almost being hit by a speeding car to make the audience jump, but when these noises turn out to be nothing having to do with the plot they become annoying.  Some events are not explained well enough to have a clear idea of what happened.  Rowan Jaffe’s direction is probably at fault here.

A thriller, but with holes in the plot.

Grade:  C-  

By Donna R. Copeland