Christopher Nolan is quickly becoming a cinematic power house. I mean look at his track record... The Following, Memento, Batman Begins, The Prestige, and now The Dark Knight which before it's even been released gloats Oscar performances and box office records.

Well...Insomnia was that little film Nolan did between art house superstar and Hollywood megatron. It's that little movie that no one saw and if they did no one knew who directed.

The film stars Al Pacino, a famous homicide detective who with his partner has been dispatched from LA to investigate the methodical murder of an Alaskan local teen. Pacino is the kind of cop who walks into a crime scene and notices all the obvious details that most overlook. Pacino carries a lot of power in this movie and does it well. A few of his best scenes involve a back and forth between his partner as they interrogate or the several quiet moments he has with a hotel desk clerk.

Robin Williams steps to the plate with another one of his sick psycho serial killer types. My only complaint is I wish they would have pulled what Fincher did with Seven and Kevin Spacey... not broadcast his role in the trailers and posters and just let the creep fall into frame. I think Williams is good at two things... Funny with good intentions or creepy with bad. Unfortunately he's one or the other in every movie except for maybe Mork and Mindy. An OK choice but definitely surprised it was Nolan's first.

Hillary Swank is the next heavy hitter doing a stand up job with the gawk eyed beat cop who admirers Pacino. Innocent and curious, I think an older Nancy Drew was the best description.

The story is great. I love how the plot weaves in and out of the main story arc and Pacino's personal subplots. As with all good scripts both worlds come to a head at the climax of the movie.

The last and most original aspect of the film comes from the name. As mentioned before, the film takes place in Alaska at the god awful time of year when the sun never sets. By the end of the movie Pacino will not have slept for 6 days. Nolan does an amazing job portraying this in the movie.

If you've ever seen a Christopher Nolan movie and known you were watching one then you will immediately recognize his techniques. As with all of Nolan's movies the flashbacks, music, and story telling all come from the same creative brain and again it's very obvious in Insomnia. In saying this, if you are a Nolan fan then this is a MUST watch.

This has been my second viewing of Insomnia and it's only getting better. Although not one of Nolan's most stand out performances it's definitely an unheralded little gem that you shouldn't let collect dust at your local blockbuster.

Reviewed by: shea
8 Comment(s)
Andy said...
I don't watch bastardized remakes starring comedic hacks. I have seen the original, but of course don't remember much. But I will check this one out for the sake of Nolan.
Nick said...
I saw this in theater, but didn't know (at that time) that it was Nolan (nor who Nolan was at that time). I remember thinking it was alright, but I'd have to see it again to really give my full opinion on the matter. Wasn't it based on a Stephen King novel?

Also, I've been to Alaska (for 2 weeks) during the summer (which is when the sun barely ever sets... with the exception of about 2-3 hours when it gets a little more than dusky about about 2 AM). And it's really not difficult at all to sleep. In all reality, wherever you go will have huge thick curtains over their windows.
* (asterisk) ( said...
For me this was so "meh". I bought the DVD blind on the back of Memento. Wish I hadn't bothered. I fear Nolan has had his moment with that one classic film. The rest is all filler.
Nick said...
asterisk: You didn't like The Prestige or Batman Begins?
* (asterisk) said...
I thought Batman Begins was largely overblown trash with a couple of good performances. I've not seen The Prestige because I now approach Nolan with caution. But I do intend to see it sometime, once I can wash all the hype out of my ears.
Paul said...
I think this is the first Nolan movie I saw, and I was very impressed at the time. I think after watching Batman Begins, Prestige, etc., it may not last the test of time, but his distinguishable style is all over this one with some great scenes portraying the breakdown of Pacino's senses. Acting was great, and I loved the story of the internal breakdown Pacino's character went through.

Hah, every time he screams in any movie, I hear "I'm in the dark here!!!"
I swear I knew when I saw this in the theater that it was a Nolan film - heck, after Memento, that was probably the chief reason, the stars notwithstanding.

I barely remember it, but I remember thinking it was "good but not great" and knowing that Stellan Skaarsgard is in the original and that he rocks. Oh, and that Swank often gets on my nerves.

Also, the king of Robin Williams creepy flicks = One Hour Photo, a decent-but-oh-so-close-to-great-film.
Nick said...
Fletch: totally agree on the One Hour Photo comment.