Mistaken identity, infidelity, lost memories… No, I am not describing what might be happening to you during this drunken Sinulog weekend but lisiting the themes of Nicole Kidman’s latest film Before I Go to Sleep. It’s a quiet psychological drama that takes its time for the big reveals and the perfect antidote to the noise and madness of our wondrous celebrations.
Directed by Rowan Joffe, best known for bringing the most recent adaptation of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock, Before I Go to Sleep wakes up in the dreary world of Christine (Nicole Kidman). Poor Christine suffers from anteretrograde amnesia, wherein she wakes up every morning not knowing what she did the day before. Lying next to her is her supportive husband Ben (played by a surprisingly creepy Colin Firth), and when her husband leaves to go to work, she receives a phone call from a nuerologist named Dr. Nasch (a suspicious Mark Strong, the English actor who has played the baddie in such films as The Green Lantern and Stardust). The doctor has been secretly treating her for weeks and has given her a digital camera so that Christine can record her previous days memories to be watched at the beginning of every proceeding day. As Christine remembers slowly and haltingly who she is, the mystery of her brain damaging “accident” begins to unravel with many a twisty turn.
You may be asking yourself, “Doesn’t this sound a bit like a messed up 50 First Dates?” Well, that is what is but in a good way. The psychological thriller is a neglected genre these days, with American studios investing their money in big budget action fantasy, betting on blockbusters, as opposed to the medium-sized thrillers and romcoms. Largely a European production, Before I Go to Sleep ticks all the boxes for a great thriller, sending you down many dead end rabbit holes before revealing a sensational central story.
The acting is central to any filmic psychological study, and Nicole Kidman does not disappoint. Nicole has had a lot of duds in recent years, but she has also been steadily releasing smaller films that stretch her acting muscles, such as Park Chan-wook’s Stoker, The Railway Man, and The Paperboy. Before I Go to Sleep joins this list. Kidman’s melange of brittleness and strength perfectly brings to life a damaged woman fighting for her identity. The steadier Firth contrasts Kidman nicely as part of a believably good looking couple, and Firth’s “good chap” persona works to hide deeper layers of nastiness. Supported by the ever broody Mark Strong, the tug and pull between the men in Christine’s life leave one wondering where she should turn.
Before I Go to Sleep has more Hollywood schlock than European depth, but this does up the entertainment value of the film for those who want a nice dark escape from the bright lights of our festive city. A great date movie as well, I think, as it will leave one thinking that perhaps you do not have things so bad in my marital hearth. Well, from what you can remember at least.
Before I Go to Sleep is showing in SM City Cebu cinemas this weekend, January 16-18, 2015.