Joffe’s adaptation retains the premise of Watson’s novel yet recalibrates elements of the plot to keep even those who’ve read it (all four million of them) on the edge of their seats. One clever alteration spares viewers from tedious scenes of protagonist Christine (Kidman)’s journal writing, though there’s fitting repetition to make her amnesia credible.
In what’s almost a two-hander Kidman sucks the audience into Christine’s fear from the striking opening shot, convincing and mesmerising with her every blink and muscular twitch. Playing opposite her, Firth, never further from the bumbling leading man, more than holds his own.
There are a couple of cheesy missteps, but like Joffe’s Brighton Rock (2010), Before I Go To Sleep is a stylish affair. A persistent score keeps emotions and tension running high while nebulous titles and grainy video footage evoke the faded and partial memories so crucial to the secret-ridden narrative.
CAST: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong
DIRECTOR: Rowan Joffe
WRITERS: Rowan Joffe (screenplay), S. J. Watson (novel)
SYNOPSIS: Christine suffers from amnesia, waking up each day with no memory of the day before, or of the last twenty years. Every day she feels she is meeting her husband (Firth) for the first time. Christine begins working with a doctor (Strong) who believes he can help restore her lost memories. But can she trust either of them?