Insomnia Movie Poster
Christopher Nolan (Director)
Al Pacino (Will Dormer)
Robin Williams (Walter Finch)
Hilary Swank (Ellie Burr)
Maura Tierney (Rachel Clement)
Jonathan Jackson (Randy Stetz)
the official Insomnia website
Anyone who has seen the
brilliant, original "Memento" will probably walk
into this film with high expectations. Well, if you
have seen it, then you won't be disappointed by this equally
gripping thriller that will keep your eyes glued to the
Al Pacino is Detective Will Dormer. He flies to Alaska
to investigate the murder of a 17-year-old girl, along with
his partner Hap (Martin Donovan). One day he spots the
suspected killer heading over to his cabin. While in
hot pursuit of the suspect, Dormer runs through an excess of
fog and accidentally shoots his partner. The murder is
covered up, and the only witness is the suspect
himself, Walter Finch (Robin Williams)--a reclusive author
of bad detective novels.
Because of his partner's death, Dormer loses sleep night
after night. He receives taunting phone calls from
Finch, and the two of them finally meet on a ferry.
Finch shamelessly admits to murdering the girl, but feels
secure since they both have a secret--they both murdered
someone instinctively, without any motives.
Pacino again delivers a splendid performance, worthy of an
Oscar nod. I'm not sure what was his last film, but it
feels like a very long time since I've seen him in a movie,
so I was delighted to see one of my favorite actors grace
the screen. Of course, I was most curious--like I'm
sure many others are--to see how Robin Williams would pan
out as the villain. After finding out he was going to
play the villain, I was stunned. Yet I wasn't
surprised that he would be able to pull it off.
Williams is a hugely versatile actor, who's played
everything from a divorced father disguising as a nanny in
"Mrs. Doubtfire" to a quiet, introverted doctor,
helping out a patient with Parkinson's in
"Awakenings." Despite his goofy personality,
he knows how to discipline himself when the time's right.
His role as Walter Finch could've been easily hammed up, but
Williams played it perfectly--without underplaying and
without overplaying. Even Denzel Washington went
over-the-top in his Oscar-winning role in "Training
Day." But Williams went for subtlety and he was
totally convincing. To top off the Oscar-winning cast
is Hilary Swank, of "Boys Don't Cry" fame.
Though she doesn't carry the film, she delivers another fine
performance. And after seeing her as the
gender-bending Brandon Teena in the aforementioned film, I
was stunned by how beautiful she really is.
This is not only a suspenseful thriller, but it's
well-written and intelligent. There's no cheap plot
twist at the end. The whole plot revolves around the
cat-and-mouse game between Dormer and Finch, both insomniacs
with skeletons in the closet. The characters are all
multi-faceted, especially Pacino's. My heart was
pumping throughout the film. I'm often fascinated by
stories involving a lot of forensic detective work, and
that's another reason I was hooked.
"Insomnia" is very rich in texture--it works on
three levels: as a deep character study, a
cat-and-mouse detective thriller and an intriguing mystery.
Nolan scored big with "Memento" and he scored big
again! I hope he keeps up the good work, because he has
great promise as an up-and-coming director.
3 1/2 out of 4 pops )
about this film with other Popkorn Junkies
Mike ( 4 out of 4 pops )
Insomnia is a
smashing, smart and engrossing follow-up movie by director Nolan to his
great debut film "Memento". It is so refreshing to see an American
suspense thriller which puts character, style, and substance over silly
plot twists and recycled action sequences. Everything is top notch
about this movie from the script, the direction, the cinematography, and
finally to the fabulous acting. Nolan proves to us that "Memento"
was no fluke and that he is already a most talented and innovative
director who will have many more great films to come. While
this is certainly a murder, suspense thriller, the film is much more a
character based one which takes us deep into the characters in order to
let us learn about them by what they say and by what they do. And
the film becomes more of a morality play instead of an action vehicle
where we are never certain whether we are watching a good cop go bad or
a bad cop finally paying for his past sins. The story moves
at such an engrossing pace where every word spoken and facial expression
is not to be missed. The cinematography is just marvelous here,
with light being critical to the story as a metaphor for Dormer's guilt.
And the beautiful, stark Alaskan landscape makes a great contrast to the
dark events going on. Pacino
once again shows why he is one of the greatest actors of all time.
He slowly shows the accumulated effect of little if no sleep and we see
this alert, quick-witted cop in the beginning slowly and wrenchingly
become unglued as the film progresses. We feel his physical and
mental exhaustion as we see his face appear to look more haggard and
ravaged as the story unfolds. Williams is also brilliant here; he
brings a scary, haunting performance to his writer psychopath character.
And Swank puts in a realistic performance as a young cop trying to learn
from Pacino's vast police experience. This
film will certainly be on most critic's top ten list for 2002 and should
be remembered next year at Oscar time. Fans of engrossing suspense
stories will love this film as well as Pacino's performance. I
can't wait to see this one again.
Patsy ( 2 out of 4 pops )
I thought this movie was pretty lame. I expected a
suspenseful thriller and all I got was a long, boring, detective story
set in Alaska. Fine, maybe it was supposed to be more of a
character driven film-- but then why tout it as a thriller-- it
definitely was not that at all. I mean, it's like some one just
said one day-- "Hey, let's be really original and make a movie in
Alaska." How's that original? "Oh, I mean, let's
make a movie in Alaska where there is daylight 24 hours a
day." Wow, that is original! Right. Just because
the setting was different didn't make the movie interesting to me.
Whatever, think what you want-- all I can say is that I love thrillers
and detective stories ala the T.V. show "CSI"-- but I thought
this movie was pretty sucky. Rent it if you want-- but don't
bother wasting your money at the theaters.
Billy Ray ( 4 out of
4 pops )
"Insomnia" is a movie for people who like substance in a
film--there is no way around that fact. Most of the people who
have given it negative reviews just don't go to the movies for
substance--they go for flash and dazzle, nothing more. This film
is so intricate in detail and character development, that it makes me
wonder how director Christopher Nolan got to be so damn good.
True, this isn't as complicated and visually stunning as his previous
effort "Memento", but it far exceeds it in character
development and character performances. By the end of the film, we
know just about everything we need to know about Al Pacino to know that
he is an ultimately good cop, who just made some bad choices. And,
by the end of the film, we know enough to pretty much sum up Robin
William's character as psychopath who got too carried away writing his
mystery novels. Everything about this film is tactful, elegant,
and beautiful. Watching Pacino suffer through his insomnia is very
realistic, and Williams does a fine job portraying a villain, who tries
not to be so bad, but just can't escape it--sometimes he seems almost
childlike, while other times he seems almost demonic. The location
shooting in Alaska adds something extra special to this film because it
is not the normal environment for a movie of this type. The strong
performances are so strong because they come from such highly
developed characters. Director Nolan has woven a powerful,
intriguing thriller that lives up to all of the hype it has received.
I warn those of you who have zero taste in movies to not see this film
because you will be disappointed. Those of us who enjoy substance
in a film will find it very entertaining. Boy, it seems like I'm
just giving every film four pops nowadays...either I'm losing my taste
or there have been a lot of good films released lately...I think the
latter sums it up nicely. This one if certainly worth anyone's
James ( 0 out of 4 pops )
American remake of a foreign film made not long ago. First (well
in my memory anyways) there was "Vanilla
now this. Only the "Vanilla
remake was actually pretty good. The original "Insomnia"
is a Norweigen film
starring Stellen Skarsgard. Made in 1997. The remake sucks.
It's dull, boring, and just tries too hard. But hey, you still
get to see Al Pacino's
signature scream! Gimme a friggin break. This bum couldn't
act even if he tried his best (and I'm not even sure he did that).
Robin Williams is good, but then again when is he not? Hillary
should go make another
"Karate Kid" sequel, because this remake stinks, like
a dead skunk in the middle of the road.