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Insomnia (2002)

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Two Los Angeles homicide detectives are dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn't set to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen.

Director:

Christopher Nolan

Writers:

Hillary Seitz (screenplay), Nikolaj Frobenius | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
1,937 ( 34)
1 win & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Al Pacino ... Will Dormer
Martin Donovan ... Hap Eckhart
Oliver 'Ole' Zemen Oliver 'Ole' Zemen ... Pilot
Hilary Swank ... Ellie Burr
Paul Dooley ... Chief Nyback
Nicky Katt ... Fred Duggar
Larry Holden ... Farrell
Jay Brazeau ... Francis
Lorne Cardinal ... Rich
James Hutson ... Officer #1
Andrew Campbell Andrew Campbell ... Officer #2
Paula Shaw ... Coroner
Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe ... Kay Connell (as Crystal Lowe)
Tasha Simms ... Mrs. Connell
Maura Tierney ... Rachel Clement
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Storyline

In Nightmute, Alaska, seventeen year old resident Kay Connell is found murdered. As a favor to the local Nightmute police chief, two Los Angeles Robbery Homicide police detectives, Will Dormer and Hap Eckhart, are called in to assist in the investigation. Although renowned in the police world, both Dormer and Eckhart are facing some professional issues back in Los Angeles. In Nightmute, Dormer has a major case of insomnia due to a combination of the incessant midnight sun and from a secret he is carrying. This insomnia is causing him to be delusional. Something he is not dreaming about is that the murderer has contacted him, informing him all about the murder and the fact that he knows everything that is going on with Dormer. They begin a symbiotic relationship in keeping secrets for each individual's benefit. But ambitious young local detective, Ellie Burr, might piece the story together on her own. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Days never end. Nightmares are real. No one is innocent. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some violence and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 May 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Insomnia - Schlaflos See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$46,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$20,930,169, 26 May 2002

Gross USA:

$67,355,513

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$113,758,770
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Harrison Ford was considered for the role of Will Dormer (Al Pacino). See more »

Goofs

The closeup of the so-called blood stains clearly reveals by its transparency that it is red sugar water, and not real blood, which is a different color and is not translucent like fake blood. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Hap Eckhart: There's just nothing down there. Nothing. I haven't seen a building in, like, 20 minutes. Look at that.
Will Dormer: We're not on vacation, Hap. Remember?
See more »


Soundtracks

Sparks
Written by Guy Berryman, Jon Buckland, Will Champion, Chris Martin
Performed by Coldplay
Courtesy of EMI Records Ltd.
Under license from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

An intense character study set against a psychological 'cat and mouse' game... that
24 May 2002 | by giancarlorocksSee all my reviews

Christopher Nolan succeeds once again at mastering a suspenseful script into a truly superb film. Nolan (Memento) creates a complex and carefully construed tale that has plenty of intentional misdirection that is quite convincing.

Al Pacino plays another one of his droopy detectives in a role that is quite unoriginal if placed in other films. Yet what separates this role from others is his portrayal of L.A. Detective Will Dormer actually has some 'meat' attached to it. Pacino plays a detective with a history of successful apprehensions, yet, he has flaws just like any other person and they come back to haunt him. Relocated from Los Angeles to Alaska, he is sent in hopes of capturing a killer who murdered a local schoolgirl.

Judging from the previews, premature assumptions can be made labeling the film as another simple 'cat-and-mouse' thriller. Instead, those conceptions will be lost soon after the haunting opening credits emerge and we are transplanted directly into a deep and complex character study set against the backdrop of a local homicide mystery in a small Alaskan town. The film's antagonist (For those who have seen the film - is he really the villain or the catalyst for Pacino's ethical debate?) is a local writer portrayed by Robin Williams. This is Williams' second villainous role in his trilogy of films (Death to Smoochy, One Hour Photo) that aims at diversifying his resume. Williams impresses as he juxtaposes between an innocent victim of a mishap and between a calculating and conniving murderer.

Director Nolan has assembled a terrific cast as this complex plot unfolds at a frivolous rate. This is a film that a discerning viewer will admire and a viewer with a short attention span will loathe. Nolan tosses us with one set of objectives and midway through the first act, we are sitting in on an entirely different film. Adjectives such as formulaic and conventional should not be associated with a film such as this. Nolan has completely revitalized the tired genre of the murder thriller with his sleek direction and picturesque photography.

Nolan first had conceived of the idea upon viewing a Norwegian film of the same name directed by Erik Skjoldbjaerg. Nolan seems to have taken the flaws of the original and improved upon them in a sleek feat of filmmaking that leaves much to be questioned about its' brilliance. One viewing is not enough to internalize the level of sophistication Nolan has created with this brilliant film.

Hillary Seitz's first attempt at writing a screenplay is solid but must be understood that the conception was not hers. Still, her script contains some juicy scenes that benefit all our characters in this film. Three Oscar winners (Pacino, Williams and Hillary Swank) highlight this film and with good reason. At first glance, the cast seems informingly incongruent, yet with time, all explains itself. Swank's performance as Detective Burr seems unnecessary right up until the final moments in the film. Yet, this is all of the resolute brilliance Nolan lends to this film.

This film succeeds on several levels of cinematic bravura. David Julyan's haunting score coupled with intense subliminal flashes match the films' dark tone and Cinematographer Wally Pfister (Memento) captures the majestic beauty of the Alaskan sea front.

As aforementioned, a thrilling chase of a murderer can be expected when introduced to the film. But not long after, we are delving into a debate that has a positive fix on morality. A battle between a person's conscience and his actions are truly at the forefront of this intellectually intriguing and complex thriller. Despite its' disappointing anticlimactic finale, the film still has enough zest and brilliance to make this film a true testament to the skill of Director Nolan.

Giancarlo's Rating: ***


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