Kidman, Firth mine memories in ‘Sleep’

Tom Long
The Detroit News

‘Before I Go to Sleep” takes a far-fetched scenario and turns it into a nightmare guessing game movie that could have been made in the ’40s.

Christine (Nicole Kidman) wakes up every morning thinking she’s still in her 20s, even though she’s 40. A traumatic accident a decade back has left her an amnesiac, and every day she has to relearn who she is.

Luckily, her husband Ben (Colin Firth) has posted pictures from their life around the house and notes that direct her through the day. What Ben doesn’t know is Christine has also started seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong), who is supposedly helping get her memory back.

Every day, after Ben leaves for work, Dr. Nasch calls Christine and directs her to a video camera she’s keeping hidden where she’s recorded the facts, fears and questions that have arisen on previous days. Dr. Nasch is also filling in some of the blank spots from Christine’s past.

Soon, she discovers she never had an accident; she was left bloody and beaten near in an industrial park. She finds out she had a friend named Claire (Anne-Marie Duff), and a son named Adam.

Ben has plausible explanations for why he hasn’t told her these things. And as Christine finds herself drawn to Dr. Nasch, the doctor’s intentions start to seem suspicious. Maybe he was the one who beat her? So Christine wakes up each day to a life story being narrated by two men she can’t quite trust.

Director Rowan Joffe steers the story toward its inevitable revelations with an old-fashioned sense of tension, although the film deflates after the big reveal and questions abound throughout. It isn’t Hitchcock, but it will do.

‘Before I Go to Sleep’


Rated R for some brutal violence and language

Running time: 92 minutes