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 »
On the ferry, the Pacino character and the Williams character have a long discussion. Outside the window of the ferry the foreshore scenery does not move, yet they are supposed to be sailing somewhere. See more »
Are you trying to impress me Finch? Because it ain't gonna work.
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Not As Good as Original, But Still A Good, Dark Tale
I erred in giving into temptation to watch the original Norwegian "Insomnia" on IFC just a couple of weeks before seeing this Hollywood re-make directed by indie-credible "Memento" Christopher Nolan with a very effective Academy Award-winning cast.
The original movie had a tiny budget and also an excellent cast, led by the terrific Swede Stellan Skarsgård, growing as pale as that relentless sunshine during the course of the film; the usually haggard-looking Al Pacino interprets his insomnia visually through an ever more haggard face.
Though the original film isn't given as the source material until well into the closing credits, this follows the main thrust of the story closely. The changes, though, are both subtle and significant and intriguingly as American as Sam Spade when the mise en scene gets moved to Alaska (actually shot in Vancouver). Significantly, there is less sex and more morality.
Hilary Swank's character is more naive than her counterpart; Martin Donovan's character's role is more central to the story and, of course, Robin Williams gets more screen time than his original counterpart, as the conflict is less in the lead's mind and more on the screen as a duel. The plot twists are done differently so I shamefully got confused between the two movies.
While not as overwhelming as the original, I do think this version should rank right up with the great detective/cop-does-the-right-thing movies, and the plot makes more sense than "The Big Sleep."
(originally written 6/16/2002)
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