Insomnia

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When a teenage girl is murdered in a small Alaskan town, Will Dormer (Pacino) and his LAPD partner Hap (Donovan) are sent to investigate. To Ellie (Swank), the rookie assigned to assist the veteran detective, Dormer's a hero. But she doesn't know Internal Affairs is keeping an eye on him. Then a disastrous stakeout leaves Dormer guilty and fearful for his liberty. Worse, he starts receiving blackmail calls from crime novelist and prime suspect Walter Finch (Williams). The midnight sun, meanwhile, is depriving Dormer of sleep, clouding his judgment. If all this may sound familiar, it's because Hillary Seitz's subtle script improves on the 1997 Norwegian thriller of the same name. Despite its linear storyline, the film is very recognisably the work of the sharp, probing intelligence that gave us Following and Memento. While it succeeds as an extremely stylish, gripping thriller, it's also another of the director's takes on 'life as narrative'. Dormer's dealings with Hap and Finch are about who can come up with a story others will swallow. The better your tale, the greater your control. Poor Dormer, however, disoriented in every sense, no longer distinguishes so clearly between means and motive, cause and effect. This, like the uniformly terrific acting (especially from Pacino and Williams), lends welcome nuance and depth to the ethical enquiry while furnishing the drama with dark, telling ironies and intriguing ambiguity.

Release details

Duration: 118 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Christopher Nolan
Screenwriter: Hillary Seitz
Cast: Al Pacino
Robin Williams
Hilary Swank
Maura Tierney
Martin Donovan
Nicky Katt
Jonathan Jackson
Paul Dooley

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Andy S

One of Nolan's most underrated films, and wonderful thriller with stirring performances from Pacino, Swank and Williams. Chilling and beautifully shot.

Andy S

One of Nolan's most underrated films, and wonderful thriller with stirring performances from Pacino, Swank and Williams. Chilling and beautifully shot.