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Move Night – Book far better than movie with 'Before I Go to Sleep' (March 18, 2015 issue)

Clichés are clichés for a reason, they’re usually true. “Before I Go to Sleep,” the thriller starring Nicole Kidman recently released on DVD and Blu-Ray, does not prove the exception to the rule. The book is truly better than the movie.
The movie opens as Christine Lucas (Nicole Kidman) wakes in bed beside a strange man (Colin Firth). She doesn’t recognize the man, the bed, the room, or even the bathroom she quietly steps into. In the bathroom she recognizes herself and the man still sleeping in the bed in photos attached to the wall. Naturally, Christine is confused. She reluctantly opens the bathroom door and moves to confront the man in bed.
His name is Ben Lucas, he informs her, and he is her husband. Ben tells Christine how she had a terrible car accident that caused damage to her brain. She has retrograde amnesia. She can remember very little of her life and each night when she sleeps she forgets everything she learned that day. Each morning when she wakes she must learn about her accident all over again, re-living each day the sudden knowledge that she is no longer whole. The majority of Christine’s life is missing to her.
While this is new information to Christine, each and every morning Ben must go through the same routine. He must make Christine understand her condition and help her deal with the pain and stress that goes along with the knowledge of her condition. Each morning when he leaves for work Ben must face the anxiety and worry of leaving Christine alone in her condition.
Things change when Christine receives a phone call while Ben is at work. On the other end of the phone is another voice she doesn’t recognize, Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong), a neurologist who has been helping Christine in secret with her memory for a few weeks. Dr. Nasch directs her to a camera in her closet, a camera that has a video diary made by Christine of what she has learned each day so that she will have this knowledge the next day. Dr. Nasch asks her to keep his treatment and the video diary hidden from Ben.
Dr. Nasch also informs her that she was not in an auto accident. Christine was attacked, found bleeding and damaged in an industrial park, and the man responsible has never been found. Christine will do anything to recover her memory, to find who wanted her dead.
The basic plot should sound familiar to you, it’s been used in several different movies, including “50 First Dates” and “Memento.” (If you haven’t seen “Memento” it should be next on your list.) “Before I Go to Sleep” is not a bad movie, but there’s nothing innovative or clever about it either.
The mystery of who attacked Christine is interesting and entertaining. Where the movie fails is with the promise of being a psychological thriller. A thriller should have you on the edge of your seat with the possibility of danger lurking around every corner. The suspense should build as Christine gets closer and closer to the truth. While Christine is supposed to be plumbing the depths of her memory with dark revelations at each turn, it feels more like she’s going through the motions of marking off chores on a to-do list titled “Find Out Who Wants to Kill Me.”
The book by S.J. Watson is far superior to the movie. When reading the book you felt like you were in Christine’s head and just as confused as she was about her life and what happened to her. The movie did a poor job of telling Christine’s story in a suspenseful way. Near the end of the movie it became more interesting, but not enough to save the entire movie.
If you have read the book, don’t see the movie. If you haven’t read the book, read it and skip the movie.
Grade: B-
Rated R for some brutal violence and language.