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|Index||89 reviews in total|
Usually, when a director wants to set a dark mood, he or she relies
shadows and gloom in the camera frame. Here the exact opposite has been
achieved through the perpetual midnight sun which throws the descent of
Jonas Engstrom into madness all too clearly. At first the effect is
but as the picture continues and there is never any nightfall one begins
feel the same bone-deep weariness and lethargy experienced by the
protagonist. I watched it for the first time late at night and it
completely threw me off my sleep cycle for the night. Most
I speak neither Swedish nor Norwegian, but I didn't find the subtitles a hindrance at all--indeed, I much prefer subtitles to dubbing every time. I found that I had to work harder to notice everything that was happening on screen, which was a welcome change from the constant "eye candy" that seems to be the norm coming out of the movie business these days. All of the performances were understated yet brilliant, especially, of course, that of Stellan Skarsgard. I was particularly intrigued by the opening title sequence, showing the murder through the eyes of the murderer in a disjointed and confused sped-up manner, and this point of view is a foreshadowing of how both Engstrom and the viewer will feel by the end of the picture.
I have not seen the remake yet, and I'm not sure that I want to do so. The Hollywood movie business never seems to know when to leave well enough alone. I'll be able to make a better recommendation when or if I get around to the remake.
An excellent psychological drama about a cooly repressed detective unable
own up to causing the accidental death of his partner, at the same time he
is persuing an author suspected of killing his young girlfriend. The
detective story isn't important here - the detective has no trouble
the killer, understanding his motives, or "solving" the crime. What is
interesting is the detective's inablility to deal with his problems and
life truthfully, metaphorically illustrated by his inability to block out
the sunlight and sleep. Stellan Skarsgard gives a very good performance as
the detective struggling to keep control of himself and the situation. As
becomes more and more tired, his life and his desires race out of control,
and his need to maintain his facade causes him to make decisions that take
him to the edge of catastropy.
This film is understated in a way that the 2002 Al Pacino remake missed the boat on. It takes place in Norway, and the director resisted the temptation to show us a travelog of cute Norwegian villages. Most of the action takes place in non-descript rooms, suffused with the cold grey light of the arctic sun. The acting is understated and viewers are left to understand motivations without explicit explanation. The film is engrossing from beginning to end, and I'll never understand why Hollywood feels it needs to try to do better - it rarely can.
I was REALLY impressed by 'Insomnia', the directorial debut from Norwegian Erik Skjoldbjaerg. If this movie is any indication of his talents he is one writer/director to watch! I have yet to see Christopher Nolan's Hollywood remake of this movie but I would be extremely surprised if it manages to equal it, let alone top it. (And I absolutely loved 'Memento') At first you think you're going to see something you've seen a hundred times, a mismatched "buddy" cop movie or your standard serial killer mystery, but the movie quickly enters unfamiliar territory and manages to subvert expectations. Apart from Stellan Skarsgard ('Breaking The Waves', 'Ronin') the cast was unknown to me, but they are all first rate, and I couldn't say there was a bad piece of acting throughout. But Skarsgard, a woefully underrated actor, steals the whole show with an utterly brilliant and compelling performance that shows a depth rarely seen by Hollywood actors, especially in thrillers. 'Insomnia' is a fantastic movie that I cannot fault. The less you know about it the better. Whatever you do, SEE this movie! Highly recommended, especially for those sick and tired at how most thrillers made these days are so predictable and formulaic. It doesn't have to be so, and 'Insomnia' proves it!
Erik Skjoldbjaerg's 1997 film 'Insomnia' starring Stellan Skarsgard is
a fine example of the rich films being offered by the foreign film
market. Skarsgard plays Jonas Engstrom, a disgraced detective who, with
his partner, travels to Norway to help a small town solve the murder of
a 17-year-old girl. Due to the atmospheric conditions (there is 24 hour
sunshine) and recent events, Engstrom is suffering from a severe bout
of insomnia, which is causing problems with his work and psyche.
Not having seen Christopher Nolan's remake, I didn't know what to expect from the story, so I was pleasantly surprised by the unconventional progression of the storyline and the various twists within the script. I have only seen Skarsgard in a couple of films, but he is always fantastic, as he is in this film as well. There are few actors who can keep a straight face, yet still manage to convey complex emotion, and Skarsgard is one of them. He walked through his scenes with a somberness that is reminiscent of most M. Knight Shymalan heroes; powerful, yet weary. Skjoldbjaergs's direction is absolutely beautiful. The colors are quite sharp, and most scenes are expertly framed most would make gorgeous still frames.
I plan to see the remake of 'Insomnia' eventually, but whether you have seen it or not, I would recommend catching the film that inspired it. 7/10.
I used to love going to the video store because there were always so many films I wanted to see, but as my tastes became more refined, my trips to the video store have become more difficult. It's not easy to find movies who's foundation are based on cinematography and atmosphere, but this movie is just that. This movie is slow and drawn out, and if you need lots of dialogue to keep you interested in a film, this one won't work for you. But if you like eerie scenes with quiet reserved characters and a sound track that is as slow and quiet as the pacing is, then this movie is will be perfect for you. The acting leaves nothing to be desired, the story is well written, the sound track is perfectly mood enhancing, the sets are breath taking, and the cinematography is immaculate. Slow, moody, harsh, and absolutely beautiful. One of the best films I've seen in a long time.
It is hard to believe that this is Erik Skjoldbjaerg's first film. It seems
like a pro job to me. Very rarely do you get thrillers crafted this well.
Almost everything is perfect. The script is as taut as possible. I saw no
holes, anyhow. The plot is believable and you will never see the best twists
coming. Even if you are the type who sits there and constantly guesses
what's coming next during thrillers, I doubt you could. The film does a lot
to avoid plot cliches. And if I'm wrong about that, if I was just blinded by
other aspects of the film, it won't really matter. The characters are very
well written. Especially the main character, played by Stellan Skarsgard. He
is certainly one of the best actors working today and this may just be his
greatest performance yet. He owns the film. The cinematography is effective.
It's bleak and cold. The camera moves assuredly, and it's always where it
should be. The music is perfectly subdued. The direction in general is
simply amazing. The mise-en-scene is marvelous. I love the settings of the
film, the threatening, rocky terrain, the broken and rusty buildings,
everything. This is a must-see film. One of the best films of the 1990s.
P.S.: Christopher Nolan, the man who created the equally impressive thriller Memento, is set to direct the American remake of this film. I personally loved Memento (though I think I'd choose Insomnia over it if I had to), and I wish Mr. Nolan all the luck. I'm sure he knows what a challenge it's going to be. And I certainly pray that he isn't satisfied with simply copying the original. He could do so and mostly get away with it - Insomnia is quite underseen. I sincerely hope that he will make it his own. I already recognize one piece of the film that has to change if the setting is moved to the U.S.: Skjoldbjaerg brilliantly uses the midnight sun in this film. I doubt it would be successful if the setting were, say, Alaska. I don't think Americans would buy it. Nolan is going to have to compensate for the loss of the midnight sun.
Brilliant, moody, a bit creepy. A noirish thriller. Stellan Skarsgard gives a wonderfully subtle performance in the lead role of a Swedish police detective suffering from sleep deprivation while on assignment in Norway. Stylistically the director and cinematographer effectively recreate the alienated and somewhat hallucinatory feeling of being sleep deprived and in a foreign country. There's more to the story of course, but to reveal those details would spoil the surprises. Be warned, if you like your movie heroes uncomplicated then stay away from "Insomnia".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sometimes you stumble upon a mini-film school by accident. The differences among the `Alien' films for instance is so profound one wonders if it is possible for the same person to actually watch them all. Same here with this and the Nolan/Pacino/Williams restructuring.
This film is about externalities, about fate, about the oppressive capriciousness of nature. About how we are all alone and always try to outrun that fact. It has a coherent tone. Encounter, even murder, is a mere tick in the cog of the relentless timepiece.
The American remake is about the power of an individual to write reality. This is all about internalities. Encounters are the prime movers in this world. All relationships matter. The Williams character writes himself, about himself, about Pacino's character, about the whole thing we see as incoherence, all of us under his spell. Here, there are decisions and consequences.
It is a difference of day and well, night. Same script more or less, but two films that couldn't be more different. All of us make some sort of important decision along the lines of which of these worlds we inhabit.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 4: Worth watching.
I found this film to be exceptionally entertaining. The other reviewer may have found the cinematography/appearance of this film cheap but I found it to be very hipotic. Perhaps people native to the country of the films setting have seen better depictions of their environment, but I think american audiences will enjoy the images. Stellan Skarsgard makes this film worth seeing on his own.
We saw this film when it first came out & we loved it. Last Sunday (5/26/02) we saw the new remake, & Monday we watched this version again on video. Wow! If you ever need an example of how Hollywood can take a classic & really trash it up, here's your case study. Everything about the new Christoper Nolan film looks totally cheesy when compared to Skjoldbjaerg's spare and completely original vision.
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