BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP (Rowan Joffe). 92 minutes. Opens Friday (October 31). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
You may have noticed a literary trend toward marriage thrillers, those female-targeted novels like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and S.J. Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep, now being turned into movies in which crafty wives and wretched husbands scheme between the sheets. The Brits have dubbed them “chick noir.” If the impeccable Gone Girl’s success and artistry have motivated people to explore the genre further, Before I Go to Sleep may be the counterpoint to give it a rest.
Quivering her way through twists and turns, Nicole Kidman plays amnesiac Christine, who wakes up every morning next to a husband (Colin Firth) she can’t remember because of an accident (or attempted murrrderrr?) that’s also robbed her of the ability to keep new memories beyond a day.
Perhaps the filmmakers were hoping we’ve forgotten Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece Memento, from which Before I Go To Sleep freely borrows in form and content to diminished effect. Christine must solve a whodunit while in an exceptionally vulnerable spot where she can’t trust the people who claim to be her husband, doctor and best friend.
With tight framing that prevents us from knowing more than Christine, director Rowan Joffe keeps things effectively tense and confusing, but with every reveal and explanation, the film becomes more hammy and ridiculous. A lean B-movie thriller is buried somewhere within this preposterous story, one that could have left us rattled in the dark without all the faux explanations.