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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Before I Go To Sleep | Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Anne-Marie Duffy, Adam Levy | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Before I Go To Sleep | Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Anne-Marie Duffy, Adam Levy | Review

Imagine waking up each day as if it is your first one on earth.  Nothing is familiar, least of all the man in bed with you.  A walk to the bathroom reveals a wall of photographs to remind you that he is your husband.  You depend on him for background information, trusting him (you have no other choice) until a phone call introduces you to a neurologist, a digital camera, and a whole new world of suspicion.

That’s what is happening to Christine Lucas (Nicole Kidman).  Husband Ben (Colin Firth) offers an abbreviated verbal biography each morning. Unbeknownst to him, Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong) has given Christine a digital camera to record a video diary which she must review each morning, after the good doctor calls to remind her who he is and where to find the camera.

Add some flashes of returning memory (Christine’s had a violent trauma in the past, resulting in a severe head wound) about a red-headed friend named Claire (Anne-Marie Duffy) with an entirely different and conflicting tale to tell, and the mystery deepens.  All the while the viewer is successfully caught up in the hunt for answers.  Who’s telling the truth?

Why is Christine remembering a quote from Winnie the Pooh, or the name Mike? Why does Dr. Nasch operate independently from and without her husband’s knowledge?  All is slowly revealed, but sadly, “eureka” moments are quickly replaced by dismay.

The outcome disguises itself as revelatory and logical.  You might even buy it for a few minutes before disappointment sets in, stemming from wildly implausible explanations that defy suspension of disbelief.

Writer/director Rowan Joffe (28 Weeks Later) adapts the best-selling 2011 novel by S.J. Watson to the screen, and is skilled at building interest and intrigue, but not at filling in gaping plot holes.  If they are indeed explained in the novel, they are noticeably absent in the film.  Christine regains her memory while the audience is left with several “wait a minutes” that detract from the satisfaction of revelation and resolution.

Kidman herself does an admirable job in portraying the fear, doubt, and uncertainty of Christine’s plight.  Firth and Strong both exude contradictory nuances that add to the guessing game.  Adam Levy co-stars in a small but critical role which cannot be named here without becoming a spoiler.

Christine’s amnesia was the result of a trauma.  Yours will be from a lack of logic that renders the film oh-so-forgettable.


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