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  • Justin Louallen

Insomnia (2002) - Written Retro Review


Justin here. Continuing with my Christopher Nolan marathon with the release of Dunkirk coming out, I am looking back on Insomnia, starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank. It is a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film of the same name that I haven't seen yet, but I will eventually. The story is about a murder of a 17-year-old girl named Kay Connell in Nightmute, Alaska that calls the attention of an LAPD detective named Will Dormer (played by Al Pacino) on the case. While investigating Kay's murder, Will receives phone calls from an author named Walter Finch (played by Robin Williams) and it becomes a game of cat and mouse as Finch knows a secret about Will that causes him to suffer from insomnia and guilt. When I was younger, this was the first film that I watched that introduced me to Nolan as a director and I had no idea it was a remake for a long time. I absolutely love this film. The performances are all outstanding. Al Pacino is absolutely brilliant as Dormer in a very desolate performance that shows the guilt he struggles with that causes him to not sleep. The performance that really surprised me is Robin Williams. Williams has always been known for his comedy roles and his stand up performances, but every now and then he would take a role that's against his type and his performance is truly haunting in this. The way that he pushes Dormer psychologically works in every scene and they form a very complex relationship that raised the stakes even more higher. The cinematography by Wally Pfister is incredible as well. The bleak foggy look of Alaska really captures the psychological feel of the film with the way that it's always day time and you really feel the sense of dread throughout each scene. The flashes of death and macabre that are shown throughout add even more layer to Dormer as he investigates and thinks back on events that happened before. If I had only one minor con for the film, it would be that it didn't have much of Nolan's trademark style as a director. Out of all of his films, this seems like the only one that he's directed that feels the most standard and coherent with the way that the story unfolds and doesn't use much of his complex ideas since this is a remake. With that being said, I truly admire this film. I'm going to give Insomnia a 9/10. What did you think of it? Comment below and I'll see you on my next review.


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