Before I Go To Sleep

Will It Make A Good Film:  Before I Go To Sleep

Expected Release Date: October 31, 2014

Director: Rowan Joffé

Based On: Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson, published  in 2011

Overview:   As the result of a mysterious accident, Christine Lucas wakes up every morning with no memory of the last 20 years of her life.  Her husband Ben caters to her every need, providing carefully selected photograph reminders and scrapbooks to refresh her memory each day.  But as she secretly begins to visit a doctor to attempt a new kind of treatment for her amnesia, the daily diary she is directed to keep starts to trigger memories and flashbacks that indicate the life she’s reminded of each day isn’t exactly what her husband claims.

Working In Its Favor:  Nicole Kidman is impeccably cast as Christine Lucas, a woman who feels out of place in her own skin, lost in her own life.  Kidman is a master of the fragile, doe eyed damsel.  She does distress, fragility, and utter shock and panic better than most (I’m hoping this performance will be reminiscent of her turn as Grace Stewart in The Others), but she’s also more than capable of making the transformation required when the character begins to put the pieces together and attempts to take control of her own personal reset button.

Potential Issues:  With the film’s release date set for Halloween, and based on the impression the trailer tries painfully hard to make, it appears as if Before I Go To Sleep is attempting to advertise itself as almost a horror thriller rather than the mystery suspense drama that better suits the style of the novel.  Yes, there’s a big twist, and the story reaches a palpable intensity as it climbs to its climax, but if Director Rowan Joffé adds too many additional twists and superficial jumps and scares, this movie will become little more than a stereotypical, trashy stalker flick.

Another potential issue this film faces also has to do with the timing of its release.  With the basis of the plot revolving around a wife’s diary entries (which are  another potential issue, but we’ll leave that one alone) along with her growing mistrust of her husband, it runs the risk of drawing unwarranted comparisons to Gone Girl, which will only lead to more scrutiny than it deserves.

Wild Card:  Colin Firth as the seemingly patient, doting husband, Ben.  Firth is a more than capable actor and I’m a big fan, but the character of Ben is, to put it mildly without getting too spoilery, complex.  I’m skeptical that he doesn’t have the versatility to embody what this character requires.

Verdict:  Will It Make A Good Film:  The potential issues here far outweigh the likely pitch perfect performance, and it’s likely this book to screen adaptation will be lost in a messy attempt to create an exciting thriller rather than a slow burning mystery.