Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Movie Review: Before I Go To Sleep (2014)

When the first whisperings of this film became known to the public, me, my mother and my grandmother all had the exact same thought as I’m sure it did for a lot of other people out there: Isn’t this the same premise as 50 First Dates? Don’t get me wrong, if they were to interpolate the idea behind any Happy Madison production, I’m glad they at least picked one that didn’t make me want to lobotomize myself with a rusty can-opener after watching it. Hell, for all intents and purposes, the idea of a woman who keeps losing her short-term memory as a thriller sounds like a really good idea. But this is all on paper; how does it look in practice? This is Before I Go To Sleep.

Firstly, the plot: Christine (played by Nicole Kidman), after suffering a terrible accident 10 years earlier, keeps losing her day’s worth of memories every time she goes to sleep, and can’t remember anything past her early 20’s. However, she soon discovers that it wasn’t a simple accident but that she had been attacked.  With the help of her husband Ben (played by Colin Firth) and her neurologist Dr. Nasch (played by Mark Strong), she sets out to find her assailant.

If I could describe this film in one word, it would be ‘beige’. The acting is unbelievably dull and only manages to make me not care about anything that happens to anyone involved with the plot; all the actors give the impression that they had to be heavily sedated to even take part in this movie. Every scene is filmed through a slightly-brighter version of the ‘Twilight/Later-Harry Potter’ filter, with very washed-out colours and almost everything tinged with grey. It almost feels like staring at a blank wall after a while. The score is without a doubt the worst part of the production side of things, because if it were tweaked even slightly, the movie would be so much better off. Music, in good movies anyway, is supposed to be used to heighten the emotions already on screen, and yet most of the score here sounds like something straight out of a children’s fantasy movie. Intense moments are largely met by plucking strings that do little but keep the film at a very low baseline. The casting, given how there are very few parts in this movie, could have worked: Mark Strong is a good actor and Colin Firth seriously impressed me with ‘Magic In The Moonlight’ earlier this year. However, the director most certainly didn’t make the most of the pedigree he had on offer. Nicole Kidman, given her track record in recent years, has essentially become a massive warning siren to stay the hell away from any movie she’s involved in; that’s not a knock against her acting (necessarily), but more the fact that she keeps picking weak projects to be part of.

This is all small potatoes, however, when compared to the disorienting beige smog cloud that is the script for this thing. It is here that I give the one and only warning that there are heavy spoliers ahead. Trust me, you aren’t missing out on anything interesting though. It turns that the man behind the attack was Ben… or, rather, the man pretending to be Ben. He is revealed to be Mike, a man whom Christine had an affair with. He wanted Christine to admit to the real Ben that they were seeing each other, she refused and he got so mad that he savagely beat her, causing her memory loss. After Christine and Ben divorced, due to Ben not being able to cope with the situation anymore, Mike got Christine out of the care center she had been sent to by Ben (using forged papers) and proceeded to construct a massive charade to convince Christine that he was her husband. This is the kind of convolution that is usually reserved for TV movie trash, not a theatrically-released film. It really seems like a lot of effort to go through for anyone, crazy love or not. Hell, insanity isn’t even a reasonable motive here, as rarely do the insane have enough mental capacity to do something this complex. The plot twist itself about Mike’s identity is foreshadowed so heavily, since everyone in the movie doesn’t shut up for even one freaking second about how Christine and Ben are divorced, so it’s one of those “Wow, I really should have seen that coming” kind of twists. Also, making Christine have a Master’s degree in History, a fact you bring up numerous times in movie? Subtle like a brick to the face.

Speaking of twists, this is one of those thrillers that sacrifices cohesion for the sake of throwing off the audience as much as possible. There’s one scene where Christine starts to get her memories back about the night she was attacked, and she remembers Dr. Nasch doing it. He then proceeds to tranquilize her then explain over the phone, after she wakes up that it was a false memory. She was tipped off because she remembered the name Mike and the doctor’s first name… is Mike. The doctor and the assailant have the same first name purely for the sake of plot subterfuge; that’s the kind of trite we’re dealing with here. In my opinion, the best twist would have been if the film ended earlier than it did, and I’m not just saying that because it sucks either. There’s a scene at the start of the third act (roughly) that is the same as the one that opened the movie, after Mike resets everything and erases everything incriminating him from Christine’s video journal. Having Christine stuck in the memory-twisting web of lies that Mike has placed her in would have been a great way to end the movie and could have made me forgive some of the film’s sins. But no, it carries on to where Mike wants to honour the anniversary of the assault by… taking her back to the scene of the crime and trying to convince her to stay with him, but as Mike and not as the fake Ben. I’ve seen evil schemes from Silver Age comic book villains that made more sense than this.

All in all, this is an incredibly boring and uninteresting sit. I accidentally spilled my drink in the cinema, and I was more invested in that than I was with anything happening on screen. It lands somewhere between The Inbetweeners 2 (which pissed me off more) and Legends Of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (which at least engaged me with how cheap it was) in the ‘bad’ section. Avoid if at all possible.



There, I made it through the entire review without saying that this film is so boring that it puts you to sleep… wait…

No comments:

Post a Comment