Sent from the city to investigate the murder of a teenage girl in a small Alaska town, a police detective (Pacino) accidentally shoots his own partner while trying to apprehend a suspect. Instead of admitting his guilt, the detective is given an unexpected alibi, but this "solution" only multiplies the emotional complexity and guilt over his partner's death. He's also still got a murder to solve, in addition to the blackmail and framing of an innocent bystander being orchestrated by the man they were chasing. There's also a local detective (Swank) who is conducting her own personal investigation... of his partner's death. Will it all come crashing down on him? Written by
greg Dean Scmitz
The script adaption written by Hilary Seitz had Al Pacino's character, Will Dormer, arriving in Alaska, the film's setting, as a detective from Oregon. Pacino's executive assistant at the time, Tim Judge, suggested to Pacino that Oregon be changed to LA and further suggested it be added that Pacino's character had planted evidence to get a conviction which put an innocent man in prison back in LA. LAIA (Los Angeles Internal Affairs) was suspicious and was pursuing Dormer to bring him back to LA for questioning. Also, Judge suggested that the real criminal in the LA case was Walter Finch, portrayed by Robin Williams. In fact, it was the similarities in the crimes occurring in Alaska that brought Dormer there in the first place, not so much just to help his friend, the police chief Nyback played by Paul Dooley. Christopher Nolan liked the changes and added them to his director's pass on the script. See more »
Towards the end of the film, when Walter is shooting at Ellie and Will, his finger is actually behind the trigger when he fires the gun (the fourth time he fires). See more »
One doesn't expect to feel claustrophobic in Alaska, but that's exactly the effect when watching "Insomnia". The primary story is about the police investigation of the murder of a high-school girl in a small Alaskan town. Through the pull of old acquaintances and political necessity, two LA homicide detectives (Pacino and Martin Donovan) are dispatched to the scene to help the locals. The political necessity concerns a graft investigation in which the two LA detectives are key suspects. One is thinking of copping a plea, so they are spirited out of LA to avoid the investigative light. Then they find themselves in the 24-hour day of the Alaskan summer where the two plot lines collide; the murder investigation and the graft. And what a collision it is.
The insomnia of the title is suffered by the Pacino character, who can't sleep during the movie's 7-day span. And each day his eyes are more sunken, he's groggier, less focused. This parallels his descent into guilt, remorse, and desperation. But to provide any more details would be to give away key plot elements. "Insomnia" is gripping and it's best to see the movie cold.
The acting, especially Robin Williams as the key suspect in the child slaying, is top notch. Williams is made for these roles, he should kiss the suck-up feel-good stuff goodbye for good. The photography is excellent, Alaska never looked so ominous, and the direction delivers the goods. Highly recommended.
63 of 74 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?