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Film / Before I Go to Sleep

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Before I Go to Sleep is a 2014 British/American Mystery/Thriller film based on the 2011 novel by S.J. Watson. It stars Nicole Kidman as Christine Lucas, who wakes up each day with no memories of a chunk of her life. Every day she has to be reminded of who she is by her husband, Ben (Colin Firth) and come to terms with her life. When a neurologist, Dr Nasch (Mark Strong) contacts her to help her rebuild her memories and her life, all is not quite what it seems.

Before I Go to Sleep contains examples of:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Christine's best friend at university called her "Chrissie".
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole:
    • In the book, Claire works out that Mike is not Ben based exclusively on Christine's comments about him. She doesn't have contact details for Ben. In the film, Claire contacts Ben separately, and subsequently realises the problem. Which means Film Claire has had contact details with Ben for years. Dr Nasch tells Christine that Claire has been trying to contact her, yet she didn't think to call Ben at all?
    • The film does not make it clear how long Christine has been living with "Ben", which raises the question of how the real Ben has not noticed his wife was taken from the mental health facility he had put her in. In the books, Christine has only been gone a few months, which is explained by Ben being on a long-term business trip abroad.
  • Age Lift: At forty, Christine is nearly a decade younger than her forty-seven year old literary counterpart. Correspondingly, this applies to certain other characters such as Ben and Mike. More significantly this results in Christine's son, Adam, being de-aged from a 19 year old with a live-in girlfriend, to a pre-teen boy.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Christine doesn't believe she is the kind of person who would cheat on her husband, to which Dr. Nash rightly tells her that she can't know for sure. Turns out that she did cheat on her husband after all.
  • Anachronic Order: Following the first scene, the story jumps back in time 2 weeks.
  • Arc Words: "My name is Christine Lucas, and I'm an amnesiac..."
  • Bed Trick: Mike tries to have sex with Christine due to impersonating her husband (which, given her amnesia, Christine doesn't realize at first). It's strongly implied he may have raped her already using such trickery (and just brute force, as he's revealed as being physically abusive later).
  • Big Bad: The man that Christine believes to be her husband, Ben, for the majority of the film. He is actually a man called Mike that she had been having an affair with. The man responsible for the attack that left her with the amnesia.
  • Deconstructed Trope: A rare thriller where the Big Bad attempts to kill the protagonist, but neither dies. Christine overpowers Mike but does not require killing him to escape and he is anticlimactically arrested afterwards with no implications he will escape, despite the mostly offscreen events seemingly implying such at first.
  • Domestic Abuse: Mike is revealed to have beaten up Christine in the past, and he later hits her in the present as well. He tries to beat her up again near the end, yet she successfully fights back to overpower him.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Technically, the events of the film happen over the course of a single day, with an epilogue set the next morning. While the bulk of the film concerns the events of the last two weeks, they are depicted as flashbacks, representing what the protagonist is learning from her video diary.
  • Fake Memories: Christine briefly remembers Dr Nasch as her attacker. He's not.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: It seems like Dr. Nasch starts to develop feelings for Christine beyond simply being her Doctor, leading him to stop handling her case for ethical reasons.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: When Christine meets Claire, she realises Ben is not who he seems because he doesn't have a scar on his cheek.
  • Mama Bear: Christine, in spades. She's pissed off when Ben reveals they had a son together and neglected to tell her about him. And even moreso when Mike accidentally reveals Adam's still alive- it's what gives her the strength to fight back against him.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. Both Dr. Nasch and Christine's kidnapper are called Mike.
  • Parents Know Their Children: Despite her amnesia, Ben comments that Christine seemed to instinctively recognise who Adam was, even if she couldn't with anyone else.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Stay the fuck away from my wife."
  • Quest for Identity: Christine is trying to recover the memories of her life.
  • Reset Button: Whenever Christine goes to sleep for a long period of time, her mind resets.
  • Stepford Smiler: Ben.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Mike start snapping under the strain of keeping up the façade of Ben, especially when Christine confesses she's starting to remember her past. So he takes her to the hotel where he first assaulted her to end things once and for all.
  • Wham Line: "Christine, I don't know who that man is...but it's not Ben.
    • Even before that, for viewers who pay close attention, is "What does Ben look like?"
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Mike in the climax, when he slams a door into Christine's face after pretending to let her out.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Mike brutally beats up Christine in the climax, before she manages to turn the tables by smashing him in the face with an iron.