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Insomnia
cast: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank

director: Christopher Nolan

118 minutes (15) 2002 VHS rental
Also available to rent on DVD
[released 23 June]

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
City cop Will Dormer and his partner are shipped off to the frozen depths of Alaska to help investigate a brutal homicide. Local cop Ellie Burr is only too pleased to see them, having followed Dormer's spectacular career from afar. But Dormer is a troubled man, and unprepared for the disorientating Alaskan summer, where the sun doesn't set for months at a time. As insomnia eats away at his sanity, he commits an appalling error of judgement - and suddenly the killer has a hold over him. What should be a straightforward investigation and arrest becomes a game of cat and mouse; and with Ellie bound to guess his secret sooner or later, Dormer's running out of time and options...
   A remake of a Scandinavian thriller seems an odd choice for Christopher Nolan, the writer and director of mould-breakers Following and Memento, but it's easy to see what attracted him; a man losing his grip on reality, a clever, malicious adversary, a world where normal rules of right and wrong have ceased to apply.
   Al Pacino is a perfect choice for the intelligent but faintly unstable Dormer, stumbling around unfamiliar territory like an angry bear in severe need of a month's hibernation. In perfect contrast, Robin Williams is a deceptively fragile Walter Finch, dapper local author, 'friend' of the dead girl, and chief suspect.
   Yes, Robin Williams. Acting. And he's good. Trust me.
   With vast snowy vistas and perpetual sunlight to play with, the film looks beautiful, and Nolan racks up the tension with his normal consummate skill. Perhaps in retrospect you'll realise there's nothing here you haven't seen before, but the acting, the twisted relationships, and the moral shifting sands that the two men find themselves mired in make this a very superior cop thriller.
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