Review for Before I Go to bed

Cinema Release: Before I Go to Sleep.
Release Date: 16th October 2014.
Director Rowan Joffe.
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong.
Classification MA15+
Review by Douglas Kennedy.

The old Beatles sixties song Hello Goodbye wriggled through my head – as irritatingly as a music worm – as I struggled to make sense of this off-beat thriller, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.
Before I Go to Sleep is a three-and-a-half hander – more stagey than movie – based on S.J Watson’s best- selling book and hardly the stars’ most memorable outings.
The story, and the origin of the Hello Goodbye inspiration, centres on husband and wife, Ben and Christine Lucas (Firth and Kidman) who are struggling to cope with Christine’s amnesia.
Christine, who was badly hurt some time before the story opens, has a condition whereas each morning when she wakes she doesn’t know who she is.
More importantly, she doesn’t where she is and with whom she is sleeping.
This is the sort of problem more often than not faced by people – mostly young but not always – who go out clubbing and strike lucky at something a-clock in the morning.
But Christine’s problem is a little more serious and each morning hubby Ben, who seems to have the patience of a stalking cat, gentle boots up her brain and re-introduces her to the contemporary world.
When Ben, a teacher, finally goes to work, Christine receives a phone call from a mysterious psychologist, Dr Nash (Mark Strong), who points her in the direction of a secret video diary she has been keeping.
The final major character contribution to the story comes towards the end when her long-term friend, Clare (Anne-Marie Duff), comes on the scene and throws the narrative into a few more twists and turns as if it were an out of control hot rod.
The plot is as long a stretch as any old lag has served, but the four actors work hard at convincing us that it’s all perfectly plausible with mixed success.
Kidman, who has had her ups (The Others) and downs (Grace of Monaco), does her bewildered routine to a ‘ T ‘ but Firth appears as awkward as his vacant 18th century hero, Darcy, in the role of Ben and for all the wrong reasons.
So with Kidman doing bewildered and Firth, vacant, Strong’s seemingly upfront and rather blunt Nash comes as something of a heavy relief.
He manages to create a sense of menace, as he begs trust, but who would should we nominate as the villain of the piece?
Maybe it is late comer Duff, as Clare, who maybe be dodgy or alternatively have the key to unlock the mystery and allow the fresh air of conclusion into the action?
The 92 minute romp is fairly easy to fellow but the final scenes are hard to digest as this throw-away entertainment should really have gone straight to video.
Director Rowan Jaffe, whose second featuring this is following the so-so remake of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock, should have paid more attention during the Hitchcock retrospectives at film school.

My rating 2.5/5.

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