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on February 18, 2016
"Insomnia" is one of those quietly excellent films that seems to have slipped through the cracks. This is peculiar, given a cast on Maura Tierney, Al Pacino and Robin Williams. In fact, the relative obscurity of this mystery is a mystery in itself.
Set in a small town in Northern Alaska, we find Al Pacino's character arriving from Los Angeles to help solve the murder of a schoolgirl. He's been asked to help by an old pal; A bit of a cloud is hanging over Pacino's head. What he never bargained on was the ceaseless daylight. THis keeps him from sleeping properly, or at all for days at a time. This aspect of the film lends a profoundly disturbing aspect to the story: we (and he) is never sure what time it is. Robin Williams is very effective in his role and does not overplay his hand. Tierney is as ever very persuasive in her role as the local detective in charge of the case. The 'Who' in this whodunnit is quickly revealed. What remains obscure, even until the end, is the why. Is it so important, though, in this strange tale. The light, again does not conceal but rather seems to place reality at a remove, and effective camera, lighting and direction brings this element to a fine edge. I was reminded of Hitchcock at moments; not so much for any particular style or trick, but because of the element of place. Hitchcock often used 'place' or location to great effect in molding his suspense. Location is used in "Insomnia" to very good effect.
If you are a collector of suspense film, satisfying productions with fine acting, or just a fan of any of the actors, I would certainly make room for "Insomnia". It is one of those films you'll pull out for a friend, and want to watch again every year or so in any event.
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on December 17, 2017
A tremendously entertaining and wickedly compelling cat and mouse game that will have you on the edge of your seat. It's frequently smart and always spellbinding. Director, Christopher Nolan keeps you engaged with the story and the characters, especially when Robin Williams and Al Pacino sharing scenes together. They have a rich and unique chemistry when they are on the screen together. Robin Williams is brilliant, you totally forget that this was one of the funniest men in the world when he just looses himself in the role. Al Pacino is electrifying, Pacino knocks his role out of the park and hammers it hard in this one
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VINE VOICEon June 30, 2015
I'm really glad I watched the Norwegian version of Insomnia (1997) first. The 2002 remake pretty much stuck to the same script, but with a few different angles. The opening of the 2002 I found much more commanding. You really saw and appreciated the isolation, ice-capped mountains, dense forests and fogs of northern Norway, more so than in the original. And I liked that in the American version, the suspect had dogs; that was a nice touch — made it a bit more likely that his story about it being an accident was more likely true, at first anyway.

TO GO WITH STORY TITLED INSOMNIA--Al Pacino and Hillary Swank in Alcon EntertainmentÕs suspense-thriller ÒInsomnia.Ó (AP Photo/ Warner Bros. Pictures).

I think when I watched the original with the subtitles, I missed some of the nuances about the problems the Inspector was having with internal affairs, in the States in the 2002 version. This is why he has so much trouble with the accidental shooting of his partner — he seems uncertain, himself, as to whether it was an accident or not. And the lady cop, played by Hilary Swank in the American version, has a much more important role in the story — all the way through but especially at the end, which was different.

Actors Al Pacino (L) and Robin Williams are shown in a scene from their new suspense thriller film "Insomnia," also starring Hilary Swank. Pacino portrays a Los Angeles police detective assigned to help solve a murder in Alaska. The film opened May 24, 2002 in the United States. (NO SALES) REUTERS/Warner Bros./Handout

It's quite prophetic when Inspector Dormer (Al Pacino) is looking at the body of the victim in the morgue and says, "He crossed the line with this one. You don't come back from that." It's not only prophetic for the killer, Walter Finch (Robin Williams in one of his more serious and sinister roles) but also for himself. He, too crosses the line, but at the very end he succeeds in coming back from it — only just.

There was quite a bit of abusive sex in the original that was left out in the remake, but the remake had its share of foul language. The shack in the newer movie was in a much more isolated place that made it more believable, I thought, as a place of privacy for clandestine meetings, and I liked the way the tip-off to the suspect came from an accidental squeal from a megaphone. Also, the differences between the partners from Los Angeles (Pacino and Martin Donovan) was much more visible, which lent itself to the question of whether the shooting was really accidental or not, and Pacino hallucinates during the search, thinking he sees his partner as one of the searchers. Nice touch!

All in all, I think I preferred the American remake but I'm glad I watched both. The foreign one was interesting, partly because of the actors being unknown to me, but I thought the American one, perhaps with a bigger budget, showed the setting off better and I liked the changes to the script — especially the ending. Absolutely amazing!
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on June 27, 2014
I would class this as one of my favourite movies.
Pacino can sometimes be over the top but he pulls it off well here.
A career policeman who's fallen and can't seem to get back up.
A good guy gone bad with no redemption in sight but you find yourself pulling for him.
Robin Williams;what can I say.He plays the bad "bad guy".
His acting is a match for Pacino's any day.
I like the setting for the movie and the constant daylight theme is great.
I will watch this movie again and would recommend it to a friend for sure.
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on January 24, 2018
very happy with my purchase
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on August 29, 2015
Quality of disk and box was not good. I would not mind for the price I bought it but it was advertised as very good quality and made me chose it over another with same price and was in poor quality.
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on December 22, 2016
good mystery
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on March 31, 2015
awesome movie
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on June 23, 2013
I tell you I'm so blessed because,this movie is been out for so long and
never have i took the chance to see it,and oh my goodness what a stupid A**
i was to not have seen it, Christopher Nolan i just love you man,you just take
a simple concept of who dunnit and almost put it into a time capsule that would
make anyone eyes bulge with lack of sleep,now if for some reason you say you
don't like this movie,well you're a complete A** like me for not watching in the first place
I sound like Blake Shelton on the Voice.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERon February 23, 2014
Out of all the movies Christopher Nolan has directed, "Insomnia" is probably the most... normal. No dream technology, no superheroes, no magical Tesla devices.

No, "Insomnia" is pretty much a cop thriller about hunting down a murderer. But it's much deeper and more layered than it sounds -- it's a tragic, haunting story of a good cop who begins sliding inexorably down, until he ends up collaborating with a murderer. And in true Nolan style, it's murky and slightly disorienting.

LAPD detectives Will Dormer (Al Pacino) and Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) are sent to the remote town of Nightmute, up in Alaska, to investigate the shocking death of a teenage girl. There's some tension between the detectives because Dormer is under investigation by Internal Affairs, and Eckhart is going to testify against him.

And since Nightmute is in the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets in summer. Unable to sleep, Dormer becomes increasingly disoriented -- until he accidentally shoots Eckhart while chasing the murderer.

Knowing that no one would believe it was an accident, Dormer desperately hides the evidence of his crime. But there was one witness to the shooting -- the murderer, mystery writer Walter Finch (Robin Williams). Finch is only willing to keep silent if Dormer frames the dead girl's boyfriend, and lets him go free.

Based on a Norwegian film of the same name, "Insomnia" is essentially a study of guilt. It's never entirely clear whether Dormer's insomnia is caused by the daylight (symbolic light of truth?) or his own guilty conscience, but the events of the movie are a tragic portrait of a fundamentally good man degenerating before our eyes.

And it's one of the best roles that Al Pacino has done in years -- he depicts Dormer as a man who desperately wants to do the right thing, but is twisted into doing the WRONG thing out of his own fear. And Nolan leaves you wondering if, on some subconscious level, he did want to shoot his partner for betraying him.

And if Dormer is in the middle of the moral spectrum, then Finch and Ellie Burr are on the two extremes. I normally cannot stand Robin Williams, but he gives a surprisingly good performance as a genial yet ice-cold murderer who wants to drag Dormer down with him. And Hilary Swank is excellent as a pure-hearted young cop who is investigating Eckhart's murder.

As for Nolan, he cloaks the movie in a sense of stillness and a pale, strange daylight that never goes away, and he builds up a slow-burning sense of suspense right to the subdued ending. This makes it all the more shocking when Dormer's sleeplessness catches up to him, causing him to act recklessly and even hallucinate -- suddenly the world seems jagged and chaotic for a few minutes, before snapping back to normal.

In fact, the movie is at its weakest when it focuses just on police procedural stuff, instead of following Dormer's descent. Even if those scenes are essential to the plot, Nolan cannot make that interesting.

While not exactly what people expect from Christopher Nolan, "Insomnia" is a beautifully tragic little movie, with amazing acting and exquisite direction.
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