It’s movies like this that make me wish Alfred Hitchcock were an immortal.
“Before I go to Sleep” is the story of a woman who wakes up every morning having forgotten everything about the day before. Nicole Kidman plays the role of the amnesiac and every day has to come to grips with her doubt and suspicion of the world around her as things begin to be revealed that make her question everything she knows and loves. That’s right it’s basically Memento, but done without any of the mind bending twist and artistic flair of Christopher Nolan. But still it’s a decent concept so can Kidman and the crew make it something new and interesting to watch?
Well, first let me say this. I actually think this is a really well plotted story. For it’s flaws, and there are many here, the backbone of the thriller is not one for me. I found myself compelled by this woman’s discovery of the truth of her life and the way those pieces came into clarity was interesting to me. There is a real sense of tension in being in that place of confusion with her that is hard to deny, and if the movie works it’s in the basic telling of that story, and also, I should at least mention, that Kidman and Firth make good use of the material with a couple decent performances as well. But here’s the frustrating thing. This movie could have been so much better. I know I mentioned it at the front, but seriously I really do miss Hitchcock in these kind of flicks. He would have knocked this out of the park in his day. Primarily because of his understanding of how to use information to create suspense with an audience.
As it stands, this movie tends to let the audience know information at the same time as our lead, which works in some ways, but I think should have been more varied. It seems to me Hitch would have played with that key info in ways that revealed things when the audience needed them not when the characters did, creating a much more engaging ride. Plus, this movie seemed to get so lost in the soap opera aspects of the story, that it slowed down the tension to a crawl while it chose to emphasize the melodrama as opposed to the tense and taut story points that should have been driving the proceedings. The over effect of which is a movie that feels slow and drawn out, which aren’t exactly traits you really want when you’re making a supposed thriller.
At the end of the day, “Before I go to Sleep” is a wasted shot at a pretty decent concept and story. Kidman and Firth are fine and all the ingredients are there, but a mishandling of the suspense and a bit too much melodrama made it feel much too slow. I can’t forget enough to give it anything better than an already generous C+