Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review: Insomnia

I am slowly working through Christopher Nolan's movies. Insomnia [Blu-ray] was his first major film after Memento. It is so far my favorite Christopher Nolan movie.

The movie is a remake of a 1998 Norwegian film of the same name. However, the plot and characters were apparently substantially changed, so I feel justified in treating it as a completely original movie. The film features an all-star cast, with Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hillary Swank headlining the film.

The plot revolves around a girl who was beaten to death in the small Alaskan town of Nightmute. Two policemen are sent up to town from Los Angeles to assist in the investigation: Dormer (Pacino) and Eckhart. Swank plays Ellie Burr, who is the bright-eyed young cop who hero-worships Dormer.

I love the way the cops are portrayed: these aren't incompetent bumbling cops who blow the investigation and have a hard time figuring out who did it. They figure it out, and they figure it out fast. However, Dormer and Eckhart come with a history of their own, and there's definitely tension between them. In a particularly intense moment, things start to go wrong and it feels like Dormer starts to fall apart, not just from the tensions carried over from LA, but also from Insomnia from the midnight sun. I won't spoil the plot for you here, but yes, Robin Williams does play a very important role, and it is played completely against type for him, which I quite enjoyed.

The DVD by the way has a short feature about insomnia featuring William C. Dement, who wrote The Promise of Sleep. It's good to be able to attach a face to a name. Dement says that the movie is accurate in its portrayal of insomnia and its effects.

Needless to say, this movie comes highly recommended. It is rated R (mostly for language), however, so parents take note.
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