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
Robin Williams would later say that the isolation of filming on location in Alaska contributed to his falling off the wagon and drinking relapse while shooting this film. See more »
At the beginning, when Ellie Burr is telling Dormer how she knows about his past cases, she asks if the scar on his neck is where Ronald Langley cut him during the Leland Street Murders case, but then immediately says that the Leland Street Murders were her case study at the academy. If so, she should have known that that was where he was cut. This could be attributed to the character's nervousness at meeting Dormer. See more »
There's just nothing down there. Nothing. I haven't seen a building in, like, 20 minutes. Look at that.
We're not on vacation, Hap. Remember?
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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.
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