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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2010
Quite liked the Hollywood version of this, more because of the storyline and the scenery than Al Pacino's sleep deprived cop but am going through a scandinavian film phase at the moment so had to give this a try - and I'm so glad I did. I found it a much superior version, gritty, moody, cold, intriguing, and best of all, it didn't have Robin Williams in it as a creepy comedy villain. Felt I had to work a lot harder with this version to understand what was driving the characters and muse over the justification or otherwise for their actions but in doing so, I got much more satisfaction out of it. By contrast, the Hollywood version encourages lazy passive viewing, waiting to be spoonfed your next opinion. Interesting that the scene with the dog is missing from the US version - clearly that would be a step beyond the pale for Al Pacino!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2010
I have seen the remake with Al Pacino as well and I found it already very good. This one however, is even better - in terms of pretty much everything: atmosphere, characters and their behaviors, scenes, etc. The story is also slightly different so it is definitely worth seeing it even for those who have already seen the remake.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An excellent psychological drama about a Swedish detective who is caught up in
a murder and then another. He and his partner are brought to this northern Norwegian
town to solve a murder. A young girl has been murdered under mysterious
circumstances. Solving the murder is the easy part, dealing with the rest of his
team and trying to keep himself together is the most difficult.

The entire film revolves around the Detective, played by Stellan Skarsgard. His
life has come apart, and he is unable to control anything. He can't sleep, he can't
block the sunshine from streaming into his hotel room. He falls apart slowly, and
we are witness to the chaos. What is most interesting is that he is somehow able to
function and is one step ahead of everyone else.

This is a film of greys and shadows, and that reflects the feel of the film. We are
never sure what is around the corner, and it keeps us on the edge of our seats.
The film is dark noir, and the only sun is the sun that can't be blocked out. The other
actors have bit parts, really, as we concentrate on the detective and his inner self trying
to deal with his emotions.

Highly Recommended. prisrob 04-10-11

Breaking the Waves [VHS]

Zero Kelvin
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 February 2011
This film is all about Stellan Skarsgard. Great seeing him in the principle role, rather than an English language support part. There's nothing cheap about this crime story, where a Swedish cop on a murder case travels to the top of Norway in the bright nights of summer, and his sense of place and reality become warped through sleep deprivation.

Ruthless.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2005
Much of the new stylish film making from Scandinavia comes from Norway, and is often called "Norwave" to reflect this. Insomnia is an excellent example of this style. Compared to the Hollywood remake this film is darker, more forboding and more claustrophobic. The tension becomes almost palpable as the story unfolds in the relentless glare of north Norway's midnight sun, leading to the physical and mental deterioration of the main character as he leads a murder enquiry. And no, he does not have the cliched name of Dormer here! When it arrives, the ending is both climactic and believable. The result - a very satisfying film that is certain to keep the viewer's attention from beginning to end.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2004
This is a typical example of how a good foreign movie gets messed up by Hollywood big-wigs. This a far better version than the Pacino-Williams film in 2 ways. Firstly visually the landscape is not only stunning but adds to the atmosphere of the film. Secondly, the actors fit their roles better [i thought the roles of Pacino-Williams never really worked], this gives you a much better sense of what the characters are going through and makes you feel attatched to them and therefore the film.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
#1 HALL OF FAMEon 15 March 2003
A positive effect of Christopher Nolan's remake of Skjoldbjaerg's 1997 inversion of film noir is the fact it has now been given a release- so perhaps people will watch the original, a far superior work to the bloated US remake.
Stellan Skarsgard is perfect here as a Swedish detective (there are references to this, reminiscent of Von Trier's The Kingdom)who travels to a desolate part of Norway to locate the killer of a girl. The film opens with a stunning digitally composed shot, equal to anything in such Dogme films as Festen and The Idiots, of the girl's murder in the permanent daylight. We see the killer clean the body etc- this reminded me a little of Twin Peaks and a lot of Peeping Tom...
This version of Insomnia is a lot tighter & doens't worry about catering to a US audience- the remake having many elements diluted, which I find odd considering it is such a violent society. Here Skarsgard actually shoots a dog, in order to fake evidence relating to an accidental shooting in fog which saw him kill a colleague (there is no laborous back story of him being investigated, unlike the Pacino flick). The remake uses the pathetic device of shooting a conviniently dead dog- dead humans are allowed, but be nice to canines!
Skarsgard's character is also suspect, the scene where he places his hands between the thighs of a schoolgirl peer of the murderee being typical of this- having more in common with the dark world of Paul Schrader or Kubrick's Lolita. The manner in which he entraps a youth is novel & indebted to Hitchcock- though constructed around a sex scene, which is also absent from the original. The female police officer who admires Skarsgard's character is less irritating than Hilary Swank's equivalent- her final actions in the denoument are much more effective than in the remake (in the remake we get a tired shootout & the assumed death of the cop- in this version the cop is not caught, but has someone who knows exactly how corrupt he is- who no longer admires him, & who reminds him he has gotten away with nothing- he has to live with his actions forever. So, closer to the territory of In the Bedroom). Insomnia also benefits from an unknown cast- rather than star turns by people like Robin Williams.
Insomnia is an excellent thriller, easily standing next to recent classics such as A Simple Plan, The Pledge & Fargo and is a most welcome issue on video. It is another excellent example of Norweigan cinema & ranks next to such films as Breaking the Waves (which also starred Skarsgard), Junk Mail & Festen. Highly reccomended.
Avoid the remake- which is on a par with such remakes as The Ring, Nikita (The Assassin) & The Vanishing; I loathe the idea that people don't get to see the original film. Subtitles aren't that hard to comprehend, are they? & when the film is as good as this...
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on 5 November 2014
if you enjoy Nordic 'crime;' thos is ''fun''(albeit a little dated since The Bridge/Headhunter etc ) -but unless you have tried living and working through the Summer in far North it's probably a little hard to really appreciate how disorienting the constant light can be one one's bio-rythms - and the sudden waking-up and not knowing if it's ten past two in the middle of the day ...or in the middle of the 'night' really plays havoc with one's ''body clock'' and sense of solidity in the world.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2006
This is the original Norwegian version of the film which was re-made in Hollywood by Christopher Nolan starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams. The Norwegian version stars Stellan Skarsgård, who is excellent, and is a well-made and suspenseful film. It is fairly standard thriller fayre, but it's very well shot and directed, with a distinct atmosphere and visual flavour. This isn't a brilliant film, but it is a good one and certainly worth watching if you like crime thrillers.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
On my viewings, both this film and the US remake are four-and-a-half star films. (I've given this one four as the system only allows you to score in "whole" stars). Although, unusually for a US remake, the Pacino version follows the original plot pretty faithfully, they are markedly different films. To me, the tension between Pacino and his nemesis Robin Williams holds the US version together in a more traditional, cohesive way. Its easier on the eye (why do we see so much of NY and LA in American films and so little of the barren north?)and Pacino, inevitably, gives a tour de force when unleashed on the subject matter of mental disintegration in the Arctic Circle. The Norwegian version is quirkier, less menacing, more matter of fact. And yet... to me, the European film toughs it out. Watch both films and ask yourself this. Which leaves the more memorable images? I'd say its the merciless, tormented, final fadeout of the Norwegian original. Pacino, you feel, finds a sort of redemption. Skarsgard never does and never will.
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