|BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP (director/writer: Rowan Joffe; screenwriter: based on the novel by S.J. Watson; cinematographer: Ben Davis; editor: Melanie Ann Oliver; music: Ed Shearmur; cast: Nicole Kidman (Christine Lucas), Colin Firth (Ben Lucas), Mark Strong (Dr. Nasch), Anne-Marie Duff (Claire); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Liza Marshall/Mark Gill/Matthew James O’Toole; Clarius Entertainment; 2014)|
imponderable and grim psychological thriller."
by Dennis Schwartz
imponderable and grim psychological thriller based on S.J.
Watson's best-selling 2011 novel, that's written
and directed without much heft or levity by Rowan
Joffe ("Secret Life"/"Brighton Rock").
The best that can be said of it is the role play
acting from the stars is fine and it doesn't put you
to sleep even if it also doesn't quite keep you awake.
The problem is it moves into the absurd, as its
contrived twisty premise stretches things out into too
far-fetched soap opera melodramatics to be memorable
as an exploration on any of the various modern-day
issues it touches upon such as marriage, aging,
treatment for amnesia or dealing with memory
amnesia problem of the forty-year-old Berkshire
housewife Christine Lucas (Nicole
Kidman) goes back to 13 years ago, when she was
involved in an
incident that left her with a traumatic head
injury. She has been told it was an accident.
Now Christine wakes up every day not remembering
anything, though during the day she can remember
things. Her aloof high school chemistry teacher
husband Ben (Colin Firth) must explain to her every
morning what's happening, who she is and who he is.
who has been working with her, named Dr.
Nasch (Mark Strong), calls
her regularly during the day and tells her every
time who he is and where to locate the digital
camera she has used for the last couple of weeks to
make a secret video diary of her days--an
unconventional treatment of jarring her memory to
return that hubby isn't aware of, nor has he given
the shrink permission to use on his wife.
the ensuing days we find out that Ben never told
Christine that the cause of her amnesia was not an
accident but a violent attack by an unidentified
assailant. Christine is also made aware that a
friend, Claire (Anne-Marie
Duff), someone she was unaware of
until Dr. Nasch showed
her a photo. Though Ben tells her
Claire now lives abroad, it's learned the truth is
that she lives near-by and would like to see
Christine. As the days go on, more and more is
learned about what happened that the vulnerable
damsel-in-distress never knew. It also becomes
apparent that Ben is not the doting hubby he
pretends to be. The question is,
should the fragile compromised woman trust either
her hubby or her shrink.
more imaginative director would have gotten more
substance out of this trashy piece. The viewer is
too manipulated to accept the preposterous and there
are too many head-scratching revelations for it to
be convincing as drama. The filmmaker settles for
modest stylish entertainment over shooting for
something someone like a Hitchcock would have taken
to another level.
REVIEWED ON 11/1/2014 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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