Before I go to Sleep has an interesting concept: Christine, a woman in her 40’s with amnesia has no knowledge of her life over the last 20 years and forgets everything new she finds out during the day when she goes to sleep at night. She starts to become suspicious that some of the things people tell her are not true but without any ability to remember, how can she know who to trust or even if she can trust herself?
At the beginning of the film it is quite interesting to watch Christine start to have her suspicions and develop ways of “remembering” things that she has found out during her investigations. She starts off simply trying to find out as much as she can about her past and document it so she can remember more easily the next day. She starts to notice little inconsistencies in things that people tell her. She meets with a doctor who says he has been trying to help her remember, but isn’t sure she can trust that he is who he says he is. When she becomes suspicious of her husband and confronts him about lying to her he admits to lying but convinces that he had her best interests at heart.
As you’d expect from Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, the acting is pretty good and Nicole especially really gives us the impression of a woman experiencing powerful emotional reactions to both the events she is uncovering from her past and the present day events that start to become more and more unsettling as she uncovers more of her history. Colin plays the long suffering but devoted husband well, sliding between loving and supporting optimism and despair tinged with an underlying malevolence smoothly and believably.
Unfortunately the twist at the end is a little too easy to see coming and the story starts to fall down a little as it reaches it’s climax. The sinister events that Christine has always expected surrounded the assault that caused her amnesia start to reveal themselves and characters start to act in ways that are inexplicable except in terms of the desire to have a dramatic finale to the film. They compound these bizarre actions by attempting to explain and justify their actions and ending up making even less sense.
It would have been nice if they could have found a way to end the film dramatically without resorting to a violent set-piece. There is some well-handled suspense and emotional and psychological drama in the first two thirds of the movie and it feels like a bit of a cop out to switch to physical confrontations and violence at the end.