Review – Before I Go To Sleep

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b4 i go to sleep collage nude

A simple brain teaser –  see if you can figure it out the answer to this scenario (it is mind numbingly simple) ….A woman is found in the loading area of an airport, behind a hotel, nude, wearing only in a bed sheet and has been physically/sexually assaulted.  What is the first thing that you think of (specifically who she is and what has happened to her)……

jeopardy music

(Wait for it….)


…..if you chose the she is a prostitue,  whore,slut,

…congratulations, you are correct.  That is the basic mystery of the plot obtusely borrowed from Chris Nolan’s nonlinear film classic MOMENTO?)  of the filmBefore I go to Sleep“, staring Nicole Kidman (and a bunch of other people i do not remember, playing supporting characters I also have forgotten. Did I mention the main plot device in this story is auto grade amnesia  I forget?  

A woman (Nicole Kidman)  is found with no memory of her past life she  wakes up and tries to put her life back together and learn who she is with the help of a doctor, her  husband and digital video recordings made with a video capable digital camera. In the trailer it intentionally sadly reminded me of the 2000 neo-noir-psychological thriller, the first major success of Christopher Nolan and his brother, Johnathan. (The film, Momento, being based on a short story my Johnathan called “Memento Mori”)

This was I assume the distributors and director and producer, hope, that people would remember  see the similarities to Momento and that would be enough to get people to come and see the film, an audience looking for the same intrigue.  To be sure they were not called out on obtuse or thinly veiled plagiarism, they changed the sex of the protagonist and upgraded her method of “recording the facts”  from a Polaroid camera as in Momento to a digital camera with video capabilities and increased her wait time for the amnesia to kick in from a few minutes as in Momento, to assumably 24 hours.

On every other level and in every other aspect, Before I go to Sleep and its spiritual ancestor Momento have nothing else in common.  Where Momento was a amazing feat of non-linear mystery and suspense which demands multiple viewings, there have been many  articles written analysing the film, and more articles re arranging the non leniar scenes into a normal series of scenes which even then is still mind  numbingly complex. (in a good fun way)

And while it does barely  maintain an aura of mystery and tainted  unjustified  suspense, the flaws in Before I Go to Sleep are many. The most insulting immediate is the fact that the main character never actually uses the recording device to explain to herself what has happened or what she has learned in the previous day, but instead only repeats the fact that “… tomorrow you will not remember what happened today.”  All the facts and clues she learn she never records on the device, making plot device of the camera recordings and ironically by equal measure the actual title of the film itself inept and pointless.

That in itself is a glaringly somber showcase of the directors disdain for the audience’s lack of intelligence.  Unlike in Momento she never learns from her mistakes or uses her recording device to “remember” anything.

I won’t go into all the other spoilers errors in storytelling and prose of this film, sufficent to say that every moment that you learn something within the process of watching this film which is supposedly to help the audience answer some conscious or preconceived question and move the story along, or build the mystery and suspense, all the answers become counter points only leading to more abrasive questions, not about the films upcoming plot and the fluent question of “why” but rather rhetorical questions of “how the hell..?” and “what the hell?”

This is only the flash point of the incredulous hypocrisy of the film makers misuse of the assumed narrative.  Such as when and how was her spoiler ALERT  “supposed” husband oops too late!   able to get her to make all the photos of them together and be happy, if she has been, as the story suggests, mentally incoherent, deficient, memory loss,  how was he able to take them all (see image at the top of the post) I will concide this point if only for the fact that we get to see Kidman naked  I have to guess that the director and producer and actors of this film all assumed that most of the people who would have paid to see the film, that their ability “thinking outside the box” that their box was the size of a match book.  However if this is not you, pick it up at your nearest Redbox kiosk and find out if you agree with the general  consensus of some other reviewers opinions in that…

“…it doesn’t completely avoid thriller clichés, Before I Go to Sleep still offers a stylish, fast-paced, and well-acted diversion….”