Sunday 3 June 2012

Before I go to sleep

Several years ago we watched the film 50 First Dates. I am not really much of a fan of Adam Sandler and expected it to be a weak rom com, but it turned out to be a touching story about a girl with memory loss and how, to make a life with her, he makes her fall in love with him every day. 'Before I go to Sleep' by SJ Watson is a tale of the other side of the coin. Christine wakes up every morning and has lost years of her life, taken from her by an accident that has damaged her memory and her brain's ability to form new memories. She has a man who tells her he is her husband and another man on the phone who tells her he is her doctor, and then gradually conflicting stories emerge about what happened to her and she becomes more unsure about who she is and who she can trust. It is written in the form of a journal that she keeps to try and make sense of what has happened. 

It is a clever premise for a story, and well told. Despite the inevitable repetition of information you get a good sense of her experience of confusion and discovery, and the build up of tension surrounding her husband is well telegraphed. Having said that there were huge holes in it which irritated me. I am not sure how much he researched the nature of this type of memory loss but you really do not get better from it (slight spoiler but you can kind of see as it goes along where the story is headed). The way she was treated by her family and friends seemed all wrong, and the medical care she received; why no one would have tried to help her previously; years and years seem to have gone past where she was institutionalised and left to stare blankly at a wall without anyone helping her to understand her life and experience, I am not sure that would have happened. Then as a very vulnerable person she is released abruptly into the care of a man without any questions; there is no way a person with such a condition would be able to sign themselves out of the place where they were being cared for. Despite the memory loss she would still have had thoughts and feelings and memories that would assist her to make sense of her experience. She would have a consistent part of her life that she did remember, it is illogical that she would remember her childhood but then struggle to recognise a photograph of her mother. The inconsistencies irritated me and I also felt that she lacked any strong personality traits, she was too much of a blank canvas on which she struggled to write her own history, when she would still have had a personality. I read it to the end because I wanted the explanation, and as it approached it felt predictable; a  dramatic climax and a nice uplifting hopeful close. It will make a great film but am not sure I will bother to go.


  1. I have this on my to-read list. The movie "Memento" starring Guy Pearce has a similar premise and is exceptional. One of my all time favourite movies.

  2. Adam Sandler films can be a little silly but I enjoy them. Your post reminds me of a movie I saw a few months ago, starring someone named Channing Tatum. He and his wife were rear-ended and she lost her memory of him. He was very patient and tried to help her remember him. She couldn't recall and he essentially made her start to like him all over again. Sorry I cannot remember the title.


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