Before I Go to Sleep Blu-ray Review
This Blu-ray release highlights the irony of an unmemorable memory-loss thriller.
Before I Go To Sleep Film Review
This Memento-esque memory-mystery thriller pairing of Kidman and Firth plays out like a dark variation of 50 First Dates, trading in paranoia and dead ends but saving the decent twists and thrills until far too late.Before I Go to Sleep paints it's story in close-to-monotonously repetitive flashback-derived strokes, what clearly worked extremely well for the massively popular bestseller of the same name on which the film was based, doesn't translate to solid thrills here. The film wastes far too much of its runtime establishing its memory-loss don't-trust-anybody angle, and not enough time developing the characters it wishes us to follow through this mystery maze, jumping us straight into the mess but failing to give enough information to engage its audience.When the expected, although not entirely predictable, revelations eventually come, they have a hefty punch - quite literally - but don't carry any lasting impact because we're not really invested in these souls. If they spent a little more time dissecting Kidman's fraught heroine, rather than just having her repeat phrases into a camera to hammer home her memory issues, then they might have salvaged a more satisfying thriller from this undercooked – and ultimately, for fans of the book, disappointing – TV-standard mystery drama.
Blu-ray Picture QualityBefore I Go to Sleep hits Region B-locked UK Blu-ray complete with a solid 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Although it tries its best, like the film, the presentation is unable to fully escape a rather TV-scale look which permeates almost every shot. Still, TV looks pretty damn good these days, and this presentation remains polished and efficient, even if not particularly reference-viable.
The perfectly serviceable picture only serves to remind us of the limited TV-scale vision of the filmmakers.
Detail is still largely very good throughout, affording almost every frame some fine observation – even the video diary shots come out reasonably well when they hit full-screen – but there simply isn’t much here to showcase any kind of depth or range, with few scenes escaping the limited two or three key locations, and the persistently drab British weather only reinforcing the small-scale feel to the piece.
The colour scheme, well, it’s exactly what you’d expect if you spent any time in the UK, but it’s a shame that they didn’t manage to find a single sunny day to give a little vibrancy to the proceedings. Still, interiors are undoubtedly richer. Black levels are reasonably strong, and the flashbacks have a more heavily stylised, saturated look which gives the film some much-needed spark. It’s a perfectly serviceable presentation, and certainly has no technical flaws to complain about, but it’s also inherently restricted by the material.
Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a decent enough offering too, but, again, it struggles to escape the small scale ambition of the filmmakers. With a plot founded upon repetition, the unmemorable score and repeated lines and sequences threaten to blend into stupefying monotone, and certainly seldom allow the opportunity to spark to life and fully engage.
There’s some nice observation in a few more atmospherically-aware moments, particularly those that involve stepping outside of the main house, and there are a few intentional shock moments, but overall the limited stage-play-style setting neither offers much room for expansive dynamics, nor is afforded any really fine observations to give it some much-needed atmosphere. Again, it’s a perfectly serviceable offering, but highly unlikely to draw you in other than during a couple of slightly more tense sequences.
Blu-ray ExtrasJust a few extras on offer here – Interviews with the driector Rowan Joffe and with the lead actress Nicole Kidman, as well as a Director’s UK Q & A with Rowan Joffe, which is hosted by fellow director Kevin Macdonald.
Before I Go To Sleep Blu-ray VerdictBefore I Go to Sleep would have probably worked better as either a stage play or as a more stylish and adventurously directed outing, but this play-it-safe, TV-scale interpretation of the bestselling novel just doesn't quite strike the right notes, instead demoting the trio of strong stars back to their origins. It's probably worth checking out on TV sometime if you happen to catch it.
Or you could just watch Memento...
At least the Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release - which comes out in advance of its US counterpart for once - is decent enough, with solid video and audio and a smattering of extras, but only fans of the film need apply here. Everybody else should give it a rental first.
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