This psychological thriller, adapted to the screen by Rowan Joffe from S.J. Watson’s original novel, is an enticing piece of dark film that balances spooky elements with emotional depth so that neither suffer.
Nicole Kidman portrays Christine, a middle-aged woman who forgets everything from her early twenties to the present each and every time she wakes up in the morning. Thrust into the unknown, Christine is forced to trust those that surround her until she gains the help of Dr. Nash (Mark Strong) who assists her in gaining fragments of her past back which slowly begin to unravel the troubling truth.
The fearful anxiety that characterises Christine, Kidman captures idealistically. Plunged into an extraordinary situation, the position of Christine is something one can’t even begin to fathom. But Kidman manages to catch this position, throttling it with startling emotion and as a result creating a claustrophobic saturation of angst. It would be unfair to state that Kidman carries the film performance-wise because both Colin Firth and Mark Strong are both quite compelling, with the former occasionally slipping into an irritating portrayal – but, no doubt, Kidman is outstanding and shines.
As a whole, the film manages to create this tight cocoon of drama, and as a member of the audience, I felt myself being hurled into this compact domestic thriller with an inescapable nature that is irresistibly haunting. The cinematography and editing work together cohesively to create a skilful tactic of the film’s answers to be far from the audience, but close enough to briefly touch, constructing a deliciously tantalising trauma.
The film does have a few downfalls: its score is too fixated on the narrative that it slips into cliché hand-holding. The conclusion of the film also felt slightly cliché and as though Joffe was shy to do something different with his film. Unlike the rest of the film which is characterised by a dark navy palette and sinister themes, the last five minutes abandons everything special about the majority of the film and desperately spends all its time tying up loose ends that were effective left unravelled. The film suffered with this disjointed conclusion, and should have ended on a striking note rather than a cosy one.
Before I Go To Sleep thrills, jumps and drags you into the claustrophobic life of an amnesiac, with an atmosphere so tight and suspenseful, you’ll find yourself holding your breath for its entirety (almost). It certainly isn’t a film you’ll forget in the morning.
Before I Go To Sleep (2014), directed by Rowan Joffe, is distributed by StudioCanal, Certificate 15. Watch the trailer below: