So yeah, I’m doing a Liz Taylor marathon of sorts… but I’m also kinda going through some Chris Nolan movies. Cuz he’s the mannnn. After I saw Following I just had to watch Insomnia because I didn’t really remember it and it too was on Netflix.
So Insomnia is probably my least favorite of the Nolan flicks, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like it or that it’s by any means a bad movie. (We’re comparing this to Inception, Dark Knight, and Memento here…) It’s got a great cast (Al freaking Pacino is in it for heaven’s sake… along with Hilary Swank and Robin Williams, all Oscar winners) and still some epic Nolan-esque qualities (who freaking well NEEDS an Oscar).
Pacino plays Will Dormer, an acclaimed detective who hops it over with his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) to Alaska to aid in an investigation of a murdered girl. Dormer isn’t so squeaky clean – there’s an Internal Affairs investigation taking place in Los Angeles over one of his cases for potentially falsified evidence. He ain’t afraid to use any method possible to find out what he wants or to win. He and his partner aren’t exactly peachy-keen with each other, they argue over methods and Eckhart might even testify against Dormer.
Then there’s Ellie Burr (Swank), a young over-eager police officer fresh from the academy, and Dormer’s biggest fan. She’s initially assigned to work with Dormer on the Kay Connell case. Ya know, I like Hilary Swank. I like girls that actually look fit and healthy rather than anorexically skinny (You know, The Next Karate Kid, Million Dollar Baby type girl). She’s also a talented actress and I think she gives a pretty great performance in this. She creates a character who subtly grows from her naïveté, it seems as natural as a real human being.
Alaska in the summer=the land of perpetual daylight. It drives Dormer insane, how could anyone sleep in the daytime? Oh wait it’s midnight already… Have you ever had insomnia? It’s awful. I grew up having extreme difficulty falling asleep at night. It was the worst in high school. I’d just be there… on the bed… staring at the ceiling… I’d read a book for a few minutes, listen to music, or not listen to music, open the window, turn up the A/C, get a softer blanket, play a game on my phone, whatever. It SUCKS. Luckily I can survive with little sleep, and luckily I’d still manage to average around 5 hours. Better than going straight through, like Dormer. And I didn’t have a murder investigation on my mind…
Dormer goes crazy. Light flashes, confusing memories, fuzzy vision, all that good stuff. He’s also dealing with some heavy anxiety (murder and stuff tend to do that to ya). He’s blinking away the fatigue whenever you look at him, willing his eyes to breath. Al Pacino’s a beast. He’s good in everything. I don’t know how a man like that can stand to be so good at what he does, seriously. But like I said, I know how insomnia goes and Al’s got it down.
It should also be noted that Robin Williams might give the best performance of the bunch, if you can believe it. I won’t say much more about him, he’s a character best discovered by watching the movie. I ain’t in the business of giving away too much.
But all I’ve really got to say about this movie is that, *cough cough* it’s Christopher Nolan. Now here’s the real question – how can a guy like NOLAN survive knowing that he has a repertoire of pure genius sans exception. What would it be like to be that legit?
Insomnia explores some crazy psychological deals. Right and wrong, guilt, anxiety. It’s also a good mystery. Who killed Kay Connell, what’s Dormer’s deal, who’s the crazy guy that keeps calling Dormer (Robin Williams – no, that’s not the answer), etc. It’s a thriller, not your standard thriller, but a thriller of the mind nonetheless. It’s claustrophobic, he’s just sooooo tireddddd. I’d love to watch the original Norwegian version – it sounds a little more hardcore than this. But by its own merits, Insomnia is great. Another 50 points for team Nolan. 8/10