Insomnia

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Well-known detectives Will Dormer (Al Pacino) and Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) are dispatched to a rural Alaskan town to solve the murder of a teenage girl.

The Highs
The performances here are fantastic. Al Pacino does an excellent job portraying the seasoned, intelligent detective. The viewer can really feel Dormer’s exhaustion and unraveling mental state as the story progresses and the continual daylight keeps him from sleep. Robin Williams does a great job, as always, and this rare portrayal of a villain here is testimony to his ability as an actor.

The cinematography is beautiful, and often breathtaking. Nolan shows the vast splendor of Alaska, treating the audience to views of its forests and streams and bodies of water.

The Lows
The actual plot of Insomnia isn’t all that interesting. Nolan makes the classic mistake of revealing the perpetrator, and thus removing any sense of mystery or surprise from the story. I understand what he was going for – wanting to play Dormer and Finch (Robin Williams) against one another – but it just really doesn’t work in an engaging fashion. In fact, the shooting of Eckhart feels like a contrived event to push the two characters together.

Walter Finch knows a lot of things that he literally could not know. He seemingly has knowledge of the Internal Affairs investigation in Dormer’s department, and it seems improbable that such information from Los Angeles would even be passing gossip in Alaska. Similarly, towards the end of the film Ellie (Hilary Swank) impossibly begins putting together the pieces of information about Eckhart’s shooting including the actual relationship between Dormer and Finch. It seems ridiculous that she would puzzle this out given the limited information she was privy to.

All of the characters are one-dimensional and never move beyond their generic crime thriller archetypes. Fred (Nicky Katt) is the worst offender, existing only to criticize Dormer and sarcastically follow his orders in the way that local police officers do any time their territory is infringed upon.

The script is really bad in places, and the score is overall forgettable.

Final Thoughts
Insomnia is a slow, frustrating film that exhibits the potential of being great, but undermines itself with ridiculous plot elements and an overall unsatisfying ending.

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