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A good cop can't sleep because he's missing a piece of the puzzle.
on 22 March 2012
And a bad cop cant sleep because his conscience wont let him.
Insomnia is directed by Christopher Nolan and written by Erik Skjoldbjærg and Nikolaj Frobenius (1997 screenplay). It stars Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank, Maura Tierney, Martin Donovan and Nicky Katt. Music is scored by David Julyan and cinematography by Wally Pfister. It's a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film of the same name.
LAPD detective Will Dormer (Pacino) and his partner Hap Eckhart (Donovan) travel to the remote Alaskan town of Nightmute to aid the local cops investigating the savage murder of a teenage girl. But Dormer leaves behind an Internal Affairs Investigation that gnaws away at him, and when a potential bust of the murder suspect goes tragically wrong, his conscious gets attacked on two fronts. By lack of sleep and by the killer himself.
It's a House of Cards.
Viewing from afar it's easy to be cynical and suggest that Insomnia is just an American remake cash in. Bigger budget, bigger stars and directed by a indie darling of the critics moving into the big league. While on the surface the plot looks to be another in a long line of cops and villains thrillers where procedural unfolds and evil is ultimately brought down at the end. Yet Insomnia is so much more than that, it's a deep movie dealing in complex psychological issues, a blanc-noir of some character substance, a picture clinically put together around one man's descent into a private hell, with the beautiful Alaskan backdrop perversely claustrophobic and Anthony Mann like in being at one with Will Dormer's fragmented state of mind.
Killing changes you. You know that.
From the opening moments as we observe a biplane flying over the Alaskan glaciers, accompanied by David Julyan's nerve tingling score, there's a looming air of disquiet. Nolan knows his noir onions, mood is everything and the dense psychological atmosphere is never once breached for the entire movie. Much of the picture is dialogue heavy, gratifyingly so, with the hushed conversations between Pacino and Williams begging the viewer to hang on every word as cop and killer (no spoiler, it's revealed to us early as a necessity) jostle for control of each others soul. What action there is also comes with a side order of otherworldly delights, a chase across floating logs and a stalk through eerie fog being the two particular highlights.
Sleep comes at a cost.
With three Oscar winners in the cast Nolan had some serious quality to direct, that Pacino, Williams and Swank deliver excellence is high praise for the British director. Pacino actually gives one of his finest late career performances, utterly compelling as Dormer, his haggard face tells of a thousand sorrows, his sleep deprived gait befits a man staring into the abyss. Wally Pfister's photography is on the money, the blend of snow whites and green tinges sparkle from the vistas and the soft brown hues inside the hotel provide the rare moments of tranquillity available to Will Dormer. Across the board Insomnia is a cracker of a movie, a film that goes into the murky depths of the genre to reveal one of the best movies of 2002. 9/10