PICK OF THE WEEK (TRAILER)
Before I Go To Sleep
Before I Go To Sleep (15) is a nail-biting tour de force
AUTUMN is coming. The kids are going back to school, the days are getting shorter and the movies are about to get a hell of a lot darker.
This is the start of a roughly two-month gap between blockbuster and awards seasons which, for me, usually delivers the most interesting films of the year.
Last September we had Filth, Rush and Prisoners. Two Septembers ago, Dredd and Looper. A year before that we got Drive and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
These are all very different films that have a lot in common. They are all mid-budget crowd-pleasers that make no concessions to teenage fads or award panel worthiness.
And so on to September 2014, which begins in some style with this superbly written and brilliantly acted psychological thriller.
Like Memento (released October 2000), this is an ingenious and deliciously twisty affair that throws us right into the fractured mind of an amnesiac.
Nicole Kidman plays Christine, a 40-year-old Englishwoman who wakes every day thinking she is still in her 20s.
When she opens her eyes she is confronted by the figure of Colin Firth snoozing in bed beside her (a prospect plenty of women will find far from terrifying). With a perhaps understandable weariness, he embarks on the first part of his daily routine to explain what the hell he is doing there.
He tells her that he is her loving husband Ben. With the aid of some dog-eared photographs, he explains how they were blissfully happy until Christine suffered a head injury ten years previously.
Her amnesia did not just erase the last few years of her life but it damaged her ability to form fresh memories.
She will only be able to follow whats going on for the rest of the day. When she wakes up the following morning, her mind will be blanker than a Towie cast members.
Then he heads off to work as a teacher and Christine is left alone to rattle around one of those cheerless, 1970s-built suburban houses.
It doesnt take long for the plot to thicken. With her morose hubby barely out of the door, Christine gets a phone call from a man calling himself Dr Nash (Mark Strong).
He claims to be a psychiatrist who has been treating her behind her husbands back. Then he directs her to a camera hidden in a box at the back of her wardrobe.
She presses play and discovers a video diary that she has been keeping under his instruction.
It seems they have been conducting their own stuttering investigation into the events that led up to her accident. Dont trust anyone, is one of the message that leaves for herself.
Kidman puts in a chilling performance as the frail but determined Christine, a woman whose mental impairment forces her to question her identity. Its not just not just a disturbing predicament but one that is full of potential for the director of this gripping, nerve-racking thriller.
From the moment she first opens her eyes, Christine is in exactly the same position as us. We dont know what is happening or who to believe.
Director Rowan Joffé lets the truth drip out with relentless precision, ruthlessly pushing our allegiances around right up to the film's explosive conclusion.
The story is the kind of mind-bending, suspense-laden affair that Alfred Hitchcock would have snapped up in a heartbeat.
Kidman didnt fare particularly well when she played his favourite leading lady Grace Kelly a few months ago.
Here she proves she could have given Kelly a good run for her money as one of Hitchcocks beleaguered blondes.
This taut film about amnesia is one of the most memorable films of the year.
Out in UK cinemas from Friday, September 5th