Before I Go To Sleep - DVD Review

'Films of this brevity, composure and narrative control are not nearly as prevalent as they should be.'

Rowan Joffe's unfairly overlooked Before I Go To Sleep feels like exactly the sort of film we need more of: original, one-off Thrillers that tell a tight and well composed story in 90-minutes and leave you wanting more without ever actually having the ill manners to deliver it. Films of this brevity, composure and narrative control are not nearly as prevalent as they should be.

Joffe's main success in adapting S.J. Watson's novel is his pacing of the reveals. Essentially a three-hander, it seems that temporary amnesiac Christine (Nicole Kidman) only has two choices when it comes to deciding on a trustworthy man in her life; Ben (Colin Firth) who tells her every morning when she wakes up and forgets everything about their married life together and Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong), who calls her every morning and tells her he has been treating her amnesia in secret. With only two potential 'villains' to play with, Joffe gets a surprising amount of mileage out of tinkering with various plausible denouements.

It is tempting to suggest that there are few films with powerful setups such as this which then manage to match them come the finale. Incendies springs to mind in recent years and whilst Before I Go To Sleep is not of that level, Joffe deserves enormous credit for a satisfying final third that could do with finishing just a few scenes earlier. The pivot in the last half hour turns Before I Go To Sleep into a much more Horror-related Thriller than it had previously been, much to its credit, given that its set up continually emphasises the distress of Christine's situation.

Along the way, Joffe has more hits than misses in the small elements he considers, though the latter are present too. Anne-Marie Duff as Claire does not give a turn strong enough to match the three stars, but the weightier moments the director pauses on are interesting. Given a camera to record her memories, like an updated Memento, there are segments when Claire has the chance to misinterpret her self-recordings and other times when parts of her story are omitted; a heady idea for the selfie generation. Watch too for a very British take on The Shining's long hotel corridors. They aren't quite as terrifying as in Kubrick's film but the fact that Joffe even attempts the nod says something to this film's quality and aspirations. Hugely satisfying.




Before I Go To Sleep is released on UK Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 12th January 2015.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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