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Before I Go To Sleep

Year: 2014
Production Co: Scott Free
Director: Rowan Joffe
Writer: Rowan Joffe
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong

Three actors usually much better than this thought a noirish thriller in the vein of Hitchcock or De Palma would be fun, and I hope it was fun for them, because there's not much of it to be had for the rest of us.

Christine (Nicole Kidman) wakes up with no idea where or who she is or who the handsome dark haired man in bed beside her is. She creeps into the bathroom, wondering if it was a bender-fuelled one night stand, but as memories stubbornly refuse to coalesce she becomes increasingly worried.

Desperate to get out of the strange house and figure out what's going on, she tries to sneak out of the bathroom quietly but the handsome man is sitting on the end of the bed waiting for her. He patiently tells her her name, tells her about the horrible accident that rendered her unable to make new memories that last more than the next night's sleep, and that he's her husband Ben. It's a speech he gives with understanding but slight weariness, as if he's delivered it patiently a thousand times.

Christine calms herself down as much as she can, Ben taking it slow and gently with her, leaving for work and giving her space to figure things out by herself. While she looks around the opulent, enviable home for clues, a phone call comes from another man claiming to be her psychiatrist. She's been seeing him for months in secret, he claims, and he directs her to a box hidden in her wardrobe containing a videocamera she's apparently been using to send messages to herself.

More and more details of her life are revealed through her video diary, including a more complicated relationship with the doctor than she imagined, her former best friend, and even a son that isn't around anymore. Ben seems to want to keep one too many secrets from her, but the question is; why? And when she can't remember any of the answers when she learns them, she can't really trust anyone.

In the time-honoured tradition of a thousand movies of this style, nobody is what they seem, and even as Christine gets closer to the truth about her son, her friend, her husband, her doctor and the attack that left her in her state, how can she even trust herself?

It's very plotty and the story is very contrived, not very organic and arises more out of mechanics than character – you're not too surprised to learn it was based on a book.

Nobody is trying too hard, least of all Kidman with her constant deer-in-headlights expression. Few of the twists are as impactful as they need to be, the final one revealed way too early, feeling like it was made up on the spot and leaving the movie with nothing else to offer except a generic chase thriller. Even when the threat of violence descends it's curiously staid and standoffish.

If you're a homemaker enthusiast you might get something out of the exquisite, clean-lined Vogue Living design of the characters and their environments, but you've seen this all before done much better.

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