Dial D for dozy

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - TARA BRADY

BE­FORE I GO TO SLEEP ★★★ Di­rected by Rowan Joffe. Star­ring Ni­cole Kid­man, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Anne-Marie Duff 15A cert, 91 min

Be­fore I Go To Sleep by SJ Wat­son is a best-sell­ing novel among folks who, ev­i­dently, have no ex­pe­ri­ence of ei­ther high-fal­lutin’ (Christo­pher Nolan’s Me­mento) or low-fal­lutin’ (Adam San­dler in 50 First Dates) am­ne­siac films. The plot of the book and this new adap­ta­tion bears more than a pass­ing re­sem­blance to the San­dler film.

Chris­tine (Ni­cole Kid­man) is an English housewife suf­fer­ing from an­tero­grade am­ne­sia, or, to use a med­i­cal term, am­ne­sia im­prob­a­bil­i­tas. Thus, our hero­ine awak­ens ev­ery morn­ing and is star­tled to dis­cover that she is mar­ried to Ben, a frus­trated chem­istry teacher played by Colin Firth.

When he leaves for work, Chris­tine is con­tacted daily by Dr Nash (Mark Strong), a mys­te­ri­ous neu­ro­sci­en­tist who is help­ing her piece to­gether mem­o­ries of the bru­tal at­tack that has left her with im­plau­si­ble con­di­tion. Chris­tine’s con­di­tion pre­vents her from not­ing, that like many episodes of Scooby Doo, there only are two pos­si­ble cul­prits.

Writer-di­rec­tor Rowan Joffe (Brighton Rock) does great work re­peat­ing the same morn­ing scene with vari­a­tions un­til those small dif­fer­ences co­a­lesce into a thriller. Kid­man plays with the oth­er­worldly, haunted per­sona that has dom­i­nated much of her late ca­reer and that may or may not be a byprod­uct of Bo­tox.

Strong and Firth make for per­fect sus­pects in a crime that may or may not ex­ist. Is one or both of them ma­nip­u­lat­ing Chris­tine for ne­far­i­ous pur­poses? Or is she, in her del­i­cate psy­cho­log­i­cal state, see­ing things that sim­ply aren’t there? If you pop out for pop­corn or a bath­room break, the spell will be bro­ken. The script and solid per­for­mances do keep you guess­ing – un­less, of course, you stop to think about the plot for a sin­gle nanosec­ond.

You couldn’t say that Be­fore I Go to Sleep isn’t en­ter­tain­ing. But you couldn’t say it was re­motely plau­si­ble or log­i­cal ei­ther. With­out want­ing to ruin the de­noue­ment, the clos­ing scenes de­pict orig­i­nal and some­times un­in­ten­tion­ally hi­lar­i­ous uses for common ob­jects in a ho­tel room.

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