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 »
After Will and Walter's conversation on the ferry, the officer who got shot in the leg earlier by Walter is shown walking normally at the police station. Later he's shown limping and using crutches. See more »
You and I share a secret. We know how easy it is to kill someone. That ultimate taboo. It doesn't exist outside our own minds.
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I didn't know that 'Insomnia' was based on a Norwegian movie of the same title. Otherwise, I would have watched the original film first. What convinced me to watch this one was the cast that included three super-talented actors and the director Christopher Nolan ('loved his 'Memento'). Thus, my comment is pretty much just about the movie rather than how it compares to the original.
There's really a lot to like about. This isn't merely a 'catch-the-bad-guy' thriller but a character driven psychological drama. It starts as a who done it, then turns into a how done it to why done it to what are you going to do about it. While it is the complex characters that stand out, the details of the murder case(s) are very well presented and the layered twists add well to the plot. 'Insomnia' is fascinating to look at. The production design is of very high quality and the cinematography is breathtaking. The attention to detail and the emphasis of the visuals that make the viewer experience Dormer's sleep deprived world is stunning. Incidentally, I was watching it very late at night and perhaps that is the best time to watch it.
Nolan's style of execution is remarkable. Daylight is used very effectively as a character of its own. In a way, it's the antagonist of the movie that leads to Dormer's mental 'deterioration'. It's a dark movie set in constant daylight. Then there's the clever use of fog and floating logs which in a way act as pathetic fallacies. Blood also plays a symbolic role. The quietness of a cold and gloomy Alaska is both intense and chilling.
Al Pacino proves again what an excellent actor he is. It's amazing how he eerily looks the part with bags under his eyes, a clumsy gait, stooped shoulders and a continuous expression of fatigue while he dives into the depth of an extremely complex character. Robin Williams skillfully downplays his part as the latently manipulative Finch as he takes advantage of Dormer's vulnerability. Hillary Swank brings an air of freshness as the rookie detective who also has to make a difficult decision towards the end. Maura Tierney makes very good use of her few scenes.
On the flip side, it may seem as though 'Insomnia' loses focus in some scenes as it appears to derail. Of course there are different ways of looking at this. The ending feels rushed and is very predictable. Also Williams's Finch could have been more developed considering the important role he has. Nonetheless, it's a well-made film. I intend to watch the Norwegian version to see how it compares but on its own, Nolan's 'Insomnia' is a fascinating experience and the cast and crew deserve all the praise for finally putting it all together.
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