Christine (Nicole Kidman) has a special form of amnesia: she can’t remember the past few years, instead she can only retain a day’s worth of new memories at a time. That means that each morning she wakes up next to a stranger who turns out to be her husband of many years, Ben (Colin Firth). Then she spends the days trying to get her bearings in her life, but after she goes to sleep at night, it’s all erased and it starts all over again the next morning. But then one morning Christine gets a call from Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong). He claims that he has been working with her for a while, without Ben’s knowledge, and that she’s hiding a video diary. The Christine in the video diary has her suspicions about her general situation. Christine herself has to figure out what her life is and who to trust.
Before I Go to Sleep is not a revolutionary film but it is a pretty decent thriller with a good cast that works quite well. I enjoyed it.
I have to admit that I saw a few of the twists in the film coming and I had my suspicions about Ben from the beginning. But for a while the film managed to reroute my suspicions somewhere else, before they turned back to Ben.
And how awesome was it anyway to see Colin Firth as a straight-up villain for once? I’m trying to recall a single film where he was actually a bad guy but I can’t think of any. [Not that I’ve seen all, but you know, there is a certain tendency there at least.] And conversely, that Mark Strong actually plays a nice guy. I really liked that they obviously used the casting to further the misdirection of the plot.
I also thought that the (domestic) violence angle was something that the film did particularly well: Ben’s evil ultimately lies in trying to control Christine completely. And through her injury – the injury’s he caused – he can achieve the goal as he makes her completely dependent on him. So the fact that he – apparently selflessly – takes care of her, is not only possible, despite his badness, but it’s a natural extension of what the problem is in the first place.
And since that and the cast worked so well for me, I could disregard the film’s weaker spots, especially the overly sweet ending. Instead I could just lean back and enjoy the film for what it is: a very nice thriller.