Ever have something so imbedded in your consciousness that it seeps into every fiber of your being, forcing you out of your comfort zone? Battling inner demons and hiding dark secrets can tend to have that effect on a person. It makes for a compelling story full of twists around every corner. How do you even follow up a gem of a film like Memento? You follow it up with a crime thriller that has you questioning your moral compass with every decision that is made by the main character. Christopher Nolan delivers yet another thriller that takes you on a ride that you don’t see coming. Nolan is a mastermind at making films that have this effect on you where he makes you second guess every little thing that happens in a scene. His attention to detail with every frame is impeccable, it’s hard not to have Nolan up there as the best directors working today. Going through his filmography, it’s easy to see the genius he has in his craft. Every time a Nolan film comes out, we all expect greatness and he never disappoints. Insomnia is just the next step in recognizing a master at work.
Los Angeles detectives Will Dormer and Hap Eckhart take a case in the state of Alaska where it happens to be sunny out all day long, making it impossible to sleep. Or having a guilty conscience could make it equally impossible. The two detectives get assigned to a case of a murdered teenage girl where they meet detective Ellie Burr who is their go to for all the details. Will wants to jump right into the case and start interviews with the ex-boyfriend but, it’s 10 pm so, the interview has to wait. Hap mentions to Will that Internal affairs is looking into him and therefore will be dragging Will down with him. For what, we don’t know yet, but the two partners trust has been broken. The investigation begins the next morning when the 3 detectives pay a visit to the victims’ school and make a statement by pulling her ex out of class. Will and Hap discover a book by author Walter Finch and immediately go to a cabin to follow up on that lead.
Things really take a turn when Will (Al Pacino) commits a heinous act because of the amount of fog in the area and shoots his partner instead of who he thought was the suspect. Hap (Martin Donovan) knew it was about the internal affairs case but, Will swears it was the fog. The suspect then gets away and Will and Ellie (Hilary Swank) are back at square one. The insomnia kicks in Will’s state of mind only gets worse with each passing day as the secret he’s hiding only gets bigger and his delusion gets worse. During one of the sleepless nights, the murderer calls Will informing him that the murderer knows of the secret and is willing to trade secrets of his own to blackmail Will. Ellie, a headstrong detective decides she will try to piece the case together without the help of Will. With Will hot on the murderer’s trail, the chase scene that ensues is heart pounding as Will slips off a log and nearly drowns after discovering the murderer is Walter Finch (Robin Williams).
Walter and Will conspire to pin the murder on Kay’s ex Randy (Jonathan Jackson) which at this point Ellie puts all the pieces together on the murder case of Hap Eckhart. Ellie finally confronts Will and Will, because of his guilty conscious tries to clean up his mess. Ellie confronts Walter with the aid of Will and the detectives get their man.
A great psychological thriller has so many complex layers added to it and only a phenomenal director knows how to make them all work together so the viewer isn’t completely lost or confused at the events taking place in the film. Nolan is a master at this. He’s a perfectionist with every little thing regarding his films. For 1 the characters are all incredibly written. Nolan is so good; he even makes the non-setting sun a character that Will exclusively interacts with. The sun amplifies the delusions Will has and its all tracked and shot beautifully. The town of Nightmute is chilling and dark down every alley and street. The hotel and bar seem to have that same eeriness.
Nolan is one of my favorite directors and this film proves just that. Along with his other films, the care detail he brings just add to the films value way beyond what anyone could expect. Insomnia features 3 academy award nominated actors and actresses that steal the show. Pacino’s acting is haunting as his character’s own conscious and delusions weigh on his shoulders. Robin Williams character is mysterious and unpredictable as he really stands out in this film and Hilary Swank plays Ellie perfectly representing the goodness that Will sees himself as. Each passing day in the films story, Will’s mental state gets worse as the secrets he’s been carrying affect his physical presence throughout. Pacino is such a master at his craft that with each day he looks groggier than the previous day.
I would highly recommend this film given all the pieces that make up this complex puzzle. I’ve been going through directors’ filmographies, first I watched Fincher, now Nolan. Insomnia is based on another film of the same name (this film takes place in Norway) and features Stellan Skarsgård.
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, I love a well-constructed thriller film. So, it would only be right that I really dug this film. This thriller like others I’ve wrote about makes you feel claustrophobic and on edge with every scene and I love the dynamic of Williams and Pacino together. The scenes when the two are on the ferry or just talking to one another are the best and really make this film work. The acting is top notch from all who are in the film, the plot and story are a strong example the genius at work.
Overall, Insomnia is a second win in a row for Christopher Nolan and is one of my favorites from him next to The Dark Knight, Inception and Memento. If I were to rank this film out of 5, I’d give Insomnia 4 out of 5.
So, tell me guys, have you seen Insomnia and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
Insomnia is directed by Christopher Nolan is Rated R and has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Insomnia was released on May 24th, 2002 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 58 minutes. Insomnia can be bought online by retailers including Vudu and Itunes.