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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
1,602 ( 407)
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
Crystal Lowe ... Kay Connell
Tasha Simms ... Mrs. Connell
Maura Tierney ... Rachel Clement
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Don't close your eyes. 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

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, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$67,355,513

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$113,714,830
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

Jonathan Demme considered directing. See more »

Goofs

While they are meeting on the ferry, Dormer's position in relation to Finch changes repeatedly from shot to shot. Dormer quickly alternates between facing Finch and facing away from him. 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 »

Connections

References Twin Peaks (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Thinking About You
Written and Performed by Danny Gill and Curtis Skelton
Courtesy of Mastersource
See more »

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User Reviews

(Obvious comment -->) This movie kept me wide awake
5 November 2002 | by Aidan McGuinnessSee all my reviews

After `Memento', I - and a lot of others - eagerly awaited to see what Nolan would do next. Could he repeat the success? No. Could he still do a decent movie, a cut above the rest? Yes.

It's all about a killer. A top detective, Dormer (Al Pacino), along with his partner Eckhart (Martin Donavan), is called in to assist in a murder in remote Alaska. They're assisted by the local police officer Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank), who is a big fan of Dormer. Well and good. The two detectives have a secret shared between them, which allows for some creative, character building friction. You want a twist? Got it - there's a few. Firstly, there's the whole `insomnia' element - Alaska is in a 24-hour sun period, which Dormer cannot adjust to. Therefore he's constantly awake, and as the hunt continues, getting more and more tired - and more and more likely to mistake. Speaking of mistakes - he makes a big one (which I can't reveal) but which has dramatic consequences (not to mention character introspecting and building). This allows the movie to take a path, which is somewhat unexpected (for a bit), especially when we see how far Dormer is willing to go. It's all let down a bit by a final fifteen minutes which is, if nothing else, too dully Hollywood predictable. Oh well.

So the script's good but not excellent. Certainly not a patch on `Memento' as it has none of its mystery or suspense. It's essentially a cop/bad-guy story with the insomnia twist, and doesn't feature any spectacularly memorable moments. So why is it above average? The performances help for one. Al Pacino is the perfect person to play an insomniac - his drooping eyes are suited to Dormer. Yes he does his usual, appearing to sleep through his roles, but it suits the Dormer character and so he's well chosen. Swank is a bit disappointing - it's not a fault of her acting abilities, but more of a character that seems decidedly under-developed. All we know is that she's a fan of Dormer, but out to prove herself and make a mark. Not original. Robin Williams is of course the most talked about actor here, casting himself against type as a villain. He's remarkably restrained. I normally loathe his `comedy' roles, and kept expecting him to burst into goofy gestures and rambling nonsense, but he keeps himself in, gives himself a quiet dignity, undercut with a credible sense of menace. It'll make his role in `One Hour Photo' interesting to see. His character is also reasonably interesting, let down again by the weak finale.

So how does Nolan, master editor, work out here? He's good. There is a nice repeated image that, like elements of `Memento', only makes full sense later on. There're some great cuts and moments indicating Pacino's extreme fatigue - still camera work, sound being drowned out, and so forth. Certainly Nolan knows how to do his visuals and work with the beautiful Alaskan (and British Columbian) landscape to create stark images (which are, of course, also metaphorical). His use of lighting - a necessity in this movie - is good, and a nice contrast with light being used where dark would normally be the enemy. It's his work, along with the actors, that lifts up the movie into the `well worth watching' category.

I was, in the end, a little bit disappointed with `Insomnia'. It's not half as clever as `Memento', presumably having to pander more towards typical Hollywood sensibilities (it appears that it deviates from the original to make it more audience friendly). The lack of a stronger script is offset by some fine acting and assured direction. I look forward to seeing what Nolan does next, just not with quite the same eagerness as I did before this. 8/10.


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