thirty-six

Watch IN BED: Before I Go To Sleep

Words by Sophie McComas

As part of her series for IN BED Journal, Sophie McComas shares films about sleep, dreaming & the bed. View past posts here

“This is dying everyday, over and over.”

I never thought these words would leave my fingertips, but Colin Firth can be chilling. He’s still slightly floppy-haired and you just know he’d be a great hugger if only he’d let you, but in this film, he’s more than a shade unsettling.

An adaptation of the best-selling novel by the same name by author S. J. Watson, Roland Joffe’s Before I Go To Sleep starts off with a whack of déjà vu from that awful Adam Sandler flick 50 First Dates. The camera pans over a sleeping couple. Christine (Nicole Kidman, breathy as ever) wakes up knowing not where she is or whom “Ben” (Firth) is sleeping next to her. Ben wakes up to explain that no, she has not been abducted; she in fact has amnesia resulting from a car crash. But of course! Each day her memory resets while she sleeps, forcing Ben to explain the story again and again, every single morning. The premise seems well worn at first, but slowly slowly, the film unravels as Christine records her thoughts each day on a hand-held camera hidden in her wardrobe, as instructed by a doctor. As each recording is re-watched the following day, the tension builds to breaking point as jagged chunks of the story are revealed. Kidman’s anxious, sleepless investigation attempts to untangle what really happened to her. Is everyone who they say they are? Is she who they say she is? We’re sucked into this ever-adjusting web of a nightmare. The plot twists and turns into violence and lots of clawing at blood-soaked carpet. The act of keeping a diary has never seemed so enticing.