Movie Review: Before I Go To Sleep

before i go to sleep

Before I Go To Sleep was a best-selling book written by S.J. Watson in 2011. As usually happens, the book was subsequently turned into a movie that was released in 2014. Nicole Kidman plays the main character, Christine Lucas, and her husband Ben is played by Colin Firth. In the vein of most other movies with memory loss in them, Memento or 50 First Dates, there is a sense of frailty surrounding the main character. As the movie opens, Christine wakes up in bed next to a man she does not recognize. Once the man wakes up, he tells her that he is her husband. She gets scared and runs into the bathroom because she does not remember having a husband. In the bathroom, she sees a collage he has put up with bunches of pictures of their life together. As she goes about her daily life, she learns through bits and pieces that she has to gather every day that someone in her life is not who they seem.

We eventually learn that like in the movie Memento, Christine suffers from anterograde amnesia. She was brutally attacked and after a few blows to the head, lost her memory. She builds up memories every day, with help from a video she recorded herself with the help of her neurologist Dr. Nasch, only to lose her memories again when she wakes up each morning. Anterograde amnesia is one of the most common devices in a movie because of how mysterious it makes the person seem, however, there is one instance in which there is a factual discrepancy.

As we have learned in class, anterograde amnesia is the inability to form new memories after the accident or whatever caused the amnesia. However, long-term memories are often intact and someone’s ability to remember events that occurred before the accident are not usually impacted. Christine is not able to remember any of her past memories at all without the help of pictures. The reason I say that Christine suffers from anterograde amnesia is because rather spontaneously throughout the movie, she would suddenly “remember” flashes of certain people in her life. The whole thing becomes rather frustrating because Christine is relying on everyone else’s word as to who she is, much like Leonard in Memento. In my opinion, it feels like the director just allowed the past memories in to seep into the plot at unexplained moments to keep the story moving forward.

While it was not the worst movie of 2014 by any stretch of the imagination, I believe a movie such as Memento is much more engaging and by and large more factually correct. However, if you are looking for a relatively fast-paced psychological thriller (albeit, complete with many cliches), this might be a good Sunday afternoon movie to watch.