Before I Go To Sleep
Director: Rowan Joffé
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong
92 mins; Class 15;
KRS Releasing Ltd

As she lies in bed, a woman’s eyes open, like they do every morning. The eyes are slightly bloodshot and express wariness.

The woman looks at the hand draped across her middle, and she looks, even more warily, at the man lying next to her, whom she clearly does not recognise.

She moves quickly to the bathroom and reacts in shock at her reflection in the mirror to discover she is in her 40s – for she thinks she is 27.

This is Christine (Nicole Kidman), who now looks askance at the many photos and post-it notes that adorn the bath-room walls.

The notes say things like ‘Our Wedding’ and ‘this is your husband’, yet they mean nothing to her.

Christine notices that the man has now woken up and is sitting on the edge of the bed, watching her.

“I’m your husband,” Ben (Colin Firth) says with the weariness of someone about to embark on an oft-repeated explanation.

Christine suffers from amnesia as a result of a traumatic incident in her past. She wakes up every morning, remembering nothing that happened in the many years since the accident.

As the story unfolds, we discover that Christine is under the care of Dr Nasch (Mark Strong), who is helping her to recover her memory. Or is he?

Before I go to Sleep is a solid psychological thriller which works on many levels. It is a taut, succinctly-told story that keeps you guessing throughout its concise running time, thanks in no small part to its three protagonists.

Director Rowan Joffé has chosen his cast well: a trio of performers each at the top of their game playing shrewdly on their respective strengths to create three compelling characters.

Kidman, in a role she can sink her teeth into after the underwhelming Grace of Monaco, really nails the vulner-ability and fear caused by her character’s predicament.

The same can be said of the characters of Ben and Dr Nasch. Firth has often played the handsome, solid, sympathetic character, while Strong has a string of villains to his name.

Watching the narrative unfold and wondering what is really going on and who can actually be trusted is what keeps the momentum going. Joffé keeps us guessing throughout, creating and sustaining the nail-biting tension from the moment Christine first opens her eyes, creating a tense and stylish atmosphere.

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