Last weekend I tried to catch up on all the movies I need to see in order to write the big Oscar column later this month. But first I had to watch Insomnia. It was a movie I got for free, and I didn’t really want to watch it right then, but I had wanted to see it, and I figured I had a week…Does that ever happen to you? You rent something thinking, “I have a whole week!” But then the week goes by and you’re scrambling to watch it before it’s due. That’s why Hyperion’s 4th Rule of Videos says: “Never rent something without a window of time you plan to watch it in, thinking you’ll, ‘get it later.’ ‘Cause you won’t.” Words to live by.
Anyway, Insomnia is a good movie, a remake of a 1997 Norwegian picture. What you need to know is that it has Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and perhaps most importantly, is directed by Christopher Nolan, whom we last saw directing the mind-bender Memento.
Pacino is called to Alaska during the 24-hour daylight time to investigate a murder. He’s leaving some demons behind and taking others with him, and all of this is compounded by his inability to sleep (with that aforementioned sun). Robin Williams plays sort of a nemesis, and Hillary Swank does a respectable turn as an Alaska detective with a case of hero worship.
The film is taut, well-paced, and gets enough of the details right about lack of sleep (and believe me, I know) to make me think that Nolan has some experience here. Overall the film was certainly enjoyable, but not necessarily a must see, especially when I had all these Oscar nominated movies waiting on me.
Suspension of Disbelief Index: 2 (out of 10). It’s supposed to be pretty real, but they take a few liberties.
Genre Grade: Psychological Thriller; B.
Pantheon Percentile: 70. Better than 7 out of 10 films out there, but not in rarefied air.