Insomnia (2002), Cert N/A.

Director - Christopher Nolan.

Writer - Niklaj Frobenius.

Starring - Al Pacino, Hilary Swank, Robin Williams & Maura Tierney.


Premise - LA homicide cop Will Dormer (Al Pacino) is under investigation from Internal Affairs and is sent to a small Alaskan town to investigate the murder of a seventeen year old girl. However the sun doesn't set at this time of year and Dormer starts to fall apart through sleep deprivation and the taunts he is receiving from the girls killer.

Insomnia is director Christopher Nolan's follow up to 'Memento' and whilst it isn't as good as his previous film, Insomnia is a very good thriller in it's own right. Insomnia is in-fact a remake of a Norwegian film of the same name, that was released in 1997. I have not seen the original film (not for the want of trying I might add) so I can't comment on how this remake compares, so I will just take this film as a separate entity.

Christopher Nolan has certainly not been resting on his laurels since 'Memento' stunned audiences a couple of years ago. And if Insomnia isn't as good an all round film as 'Memento', the fact that it is still a very good film, shows that at the very least Nolan isn't a one hit wonder. Freed from the storytelling constraints that Guy Pearce's memory problems imposed on him Nolan is able to paint a picture on a much wider canvas this time around.

Nolan uses the gorgeous Alaskan countryside to it's fullest in Insomnia. Fog draped pebble beaches, seemingly endless glaciers, harsh sheer rock faces and massive log flows are swooped over by the camera to great effect. Nolan also seems at home when filming action. The many chase scenes are filmed with handheld cameras and with sharp cuts that put the viewer in the heat of the chase.

Perhaps most impressive is the foot chase over the previously mentioned log flow. The tension is really racked up due to the precarious nature of the surface. It's quite a nail biting scene especially the way it pans out, edge of your seat stuff.

Nolan also seems to be at home with the actors on this film. Al Pacino gives a very subdued performance, very impressive given that Pacino is often known for overacting. As the film goes on and he gets more and more tired, Pacino slows down to almost a crawl, slurring his words and barely keeping his eyes open. It's impressive stuff from the veteran.

Even more impressive however, is Robin Williams. Insomnia is a complete turn around for him, it's as far removed from any of his comedy (if you can call it that) work and also any of his sentimental, claptrap, movie-of-the-week stuff that you could get. Williams really impressed me and I can't wait to see him do similar work in 'Death To Smoochy' and the upcoming 'One Hour Photo'.

Elsewhere there is the not very unattractive Hilary Swank as the local law. She gives a solid, if uninspiring performance. Perhaps she is overshadowed by the stellar work of the two leads, whatever the reason I know she is capable of more. A strange decision is the casting of ER's Maura Teirney as the travel lodge desk clerk. This is a small part with little scenes. I find it strange that someone of Teirney's obvious talent would take such a frankly meaningless part. She has one scene of note with Pacino near the end of the film, but for the remainder she is posted missing, perhaps on the cutting room floor.

Indeed Insomnia is a very good film, make no mistake. However the way things were tied up at the end of the film left me cold. In a film such as this where the line between good guy and bad guy is murky at best, the ending that was presented was a little too neat for my tastes. Basically it's an A-typical hollywood shoot out, which I felt was unsuitable considering the high quality of the rest of the film. You can't have it all I guess.

Aside from a fairly poor ending, Insomnia is quality material and is definitely worth a look for anyone that appreciates a superior thriller with fine performances. Certainly a worthy follow up to 'Memento'.


7/10 for Insomnia.

Poster Quote - Must...........sleep.