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Sitting Right There In Plain View
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.