DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily Blu-ray Disc & DVD news and reviews
Before I Go to Sleep (2014)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/27/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/23/2015
Obviously the goal of a movie trailer is to elicit a reaction in the viewer and the movie studio behind the trailer wants that reaction to be, "Wow! I can't wait to see that movie!" However, it's very strange to see a trailer for a movie with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth and think, "Is this a remake of an Adam Sandler movie?" Yes, the dramatic-thriller Before I Go to Sleep has the same central conceit as the 2004 Sandler vehicle 50 First Dates, which may make the movie off-putting to some. But, once you get beyond that odd fact, you'll find a tautly-made thriller which boasts some good twists.
Nicole Kidman stars in Before I Go to Sleep as Christine, a woman who, due to an accident, is able to form long-term memories. Each day she wakes up thinking that she is still in her 20s, learns about her current life, and then as she sleeps, the memories drift away, and she awakens confused and scared again the next day. She lives with her husband, Ben (Colin Firth), and each morning he patiently explains to her who he is and who she is. Although she must be reminded of it daily, Christine has been working with Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong), a neurologist who is studying her specific type of amnesia. He's given her a video camera so that she can keep a diary in hopes that this will cause her memories to return. During her meetings with Dr. Nasch, she is surprised to learn that Ben left out some important details from her story, such as how she came to be in this state. Did he do that to protect her? As Christine utilizes her daily diary, some of her memories do begin to return and she begins to suspect that the life which she's living today doesn't line up with her real past.
Again, I remember seeing the trailer for Before I Go to Sleep and having the aforementioned reaction, but I don't remember actually hearing about the film opening in theaters. This is sad, as it's an impressive thriller. Based on a novel by S.J. Watson, Writer/Director Rowan Joffe, son of Roland Joffe, has created the kind of tense Hitchcockian thriller which may modern movies strive to be, yet fall short.
As noted above, once you get over the similarity to 50 First Dates, the use of the amnesia angle is a good starting off point for the movie. Similar to the frustration felt when one must re-try the level of a video-game, we watch Christine get new pieces to her puzzle, only to forget about them the next day. It's only when she's able to connect the dots on the things which she is learning that she is able to move forward. The script makes the smart move of having the audience take Christine's journey with her. Rarely does the camera leave Kidman and we learn things as she does -- of course, unlike Christine, we can remember them. At times, the viewer is ahead of her, but there are some key plot twists which come out of nowhere in the film. I can't remember a recent film where so many bombshells are dropped in the second half of the movie. Some of these are delivered in a deliberate, shocking manner, while others manifest themselves in a bit of throwaway dialogue, but they are all very effective and they do a great job of propelling the story forward to the finale.
As one would expect, the twisty plot is only enhanced by the acting on display here. Kidman displays a believable vulnerability as Christine and, for once, her breathy, just above a whisper voice works, as Christine is constantly shocked and dismayed by what she is learning about her life. (And while Christine looks very haggard at times, they never explain how she remembers to put together an elegant outfit when she leaves the house.) Again, Kidman is in nearly every shot of the film and she does a great job carrying it. Colin Firth is as dependable as ever, and it's easy to buy him as a man who would go through so much sacrifice for the woman that he loves. Mark Strong continues to be that "Guy you know from somewhere" and his presence lends an air of credibility to the doctor role.
I typically don't go for the "thriller which is sort of like a horror movie, but isn't" genre of film, as they are generally interchangeable and wimp out when they should be pushing envelope. Before I Go to Sleep doesn't pull any punches with its twists and journeys which the characters take is engrossing. Let me put it this way: My wife always knows what is going to happen in a movie, and Before I Go to Sleep kept her guessing most of the way. While there is some violence in the finale, this should appeal to anyone who likes an intelligent mystery.
Before I Go to Sleep made me wonder if Christine remembered to recharge her camera on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 23 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is notable, as we can make out textures on objects and the depth works well in landscape shots. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. The movie vacillates from being a quiet drama to a shocking thriller and the audio reflects this, as things get very active in the finale. There are moments where Christine's memories rush in and they are accompanied by impressive surround sound. The stereo effects highlight some off-screen sounds and there is some nice subwoofer during the finale.
The Before I Go to Sleep Blu-ray Disc offers a few extra features. We get three "Character Illusions" which focus on "Ben" (1 minute), "Christine" (1 minute), and "Dr. Nasch" (1 minute). These are all very brief snippets which offer clips from the movie and the actor involved describing their character. "Forget Me Not" (2 minutes) is a very brief segment which plays like a trailer peppered with comments from the cast. The final extra is the actual THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long