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INSOMNIA ,2002
Movie Reviews!

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INSOMNIA, 2002
Movie Reviews

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hillary Swank, Martin Donovan, Paul Dooley
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

Two Los Angeles homicide detectives are dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn't set to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen.

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REVIEW:

Insomnia can only be a film that can be described as Hitchcockian. We enter the world of a detective in a fish out of water scenario. He's from LA but is sent to Alaska to solve a small town murder. What occurs is a thing of thriller beauty. As an audience member you are on the edge of your seat because you have no idea what's going to happen next. You are never one step ahead or a step behind the main character but with him moment to moment. What he sees is what we see. And the fact that he can't get to sleep keeps us even more aware of our surroundings.

The murder case in Insomnia isn't important at all. The detectives and the audience know right away who the killer is. We understand his motive and the crime itself will be easy to solve. That story isn't why we're watching. The detective's (played by Al Pacino in his 134th roles as a cop) story is the only thing that matters. His unsureness, guilt and overall self-anger keeps him awake as the 24 hour Alaskan sunlight is a metaphor for his inability to block out his demons. The man can't sleep and the more he stays awake the more paranoid and confused he becomes.

This also as of this writing, could be Al Pacino's last great performance. In his recent films Pacino seems to be playing a version of himself while a plot happens in his background. Insomnia proves that he is a fantastic actor as the true definition of insomnia is captured better than any other film in recent memory. And Pacino deserves most of the credit.

Insomnia is a theme that has occurred many times in past films. The two that stand out are Taxi Driver and Fight Club. Those two main characters of course turned out to be psychopaths. The detective in this film isn't a psychopath but a man who tried to be above the law and be his own trial and jury. His one small act puts him on a path to personal destruction as he can't overcome his guilt. Why does he fell guilty? Because you can tell that there was a time that he lived his life by a distinct set of values and principals. Then he contradicted himself and he can't forgive himself for it.

Insomnia is also a film about how the tiny seeds of bad behavior turn into large viruses that can't be stopped. Say you tell one small lie in your daily conversation with someone. That lie turns into other lies whenever that matter comes up and all of a sudden it becomes 100s of lies and it's practically a virus of terror.

Even the killer (played by Robin Williams) is a guy who reacted from his deepest insecurities and all of sudden killed a girl by mistake. You can tell that he didn't mean to kill the girl but he doesn't want to go to jail so he covers it up. That cover up leads to more murders and more destruction from everyone who enters that world.

This was Christopher Nolan's next film after the landmark Memento. Memento is another thriller with a twist and when watching Insomnia you couldn't help but want to compare the two films. But Memento is a landmark film where they pulled off a whole new way to tell a story. So Insomnia is that sophomore film that is impossible to live up to. Kind of like Tarantino's next film after Pulp Fiction or M. Night Shyamalan's next film after The Sixth Sense. When watching the film with those pair of glasses on, it's looks too simple. But after watching it again a few years later after Nolan's Batman success, you see the film very different.

Insomnia is one hell of a movie. This is a complicated world of shades of gray and Nolan gives us that. Both the detective and the killer are good and bad people and we can't help but feel for both of them. This is a theme Nolan keeps bringing up in all of his films. The world of the good and the bad guy and how they are pretty much the same people. It's what made The Dark Knight the hit that it was. And this is a theme Nolan will keep bringing up for the rest of his career.

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