Insomnia (2002)

Insomnia (2002)

I’m gonna start off with this weeks retro review of Insomnia. Now this is Christopher Nolan at his best. He perfectly harnesses the raw talent of the three leads.

Hillary Swank as Ellie Burr (not sure if there is a pun intended here) maintains a strong presence throughout. In a role that I think any other actor would have just phoned in, instead Swank offers a memorable performance really mirroring a person that Pacino’s haggard character, Will Dormer used to be in a past life.

This relationship between rookie and mentor is contrasted with Robin Williams terrifying and manipulative character Walter Finch. Finch attempts to cultivate a sort of fraternal bond between Dormer and himself but is resisted by Dormer at every turn. Williams gives a captivating recount of his crime which is unfortunately interrupted by editing in some of what Williams is hauntingly describing. This offers a jarring experience for the viewer. Perhaps this was Nolan’s intent to create a sense of discomfort with Finch that is felt throughout the remainder of the film. But I thought that Williams delivery of the piece is haunting enough to accomplish that outcome.

Dody Dorn the editor, who worked with Nolan on Memento really shines here, the film gets blurry and sometimes black momentarily to illustrate to the viewer what Dormer is going through and this serves to enhance Pacino’s performance of Dormer here, he descends slowly into madness due to his suffering from the insomnia of the title. The blurry vision and the eventual hallucinations are hinted at rather than expressly stated. Only when Williams character speaks of his own suffering with insomnia do we realise all the subtlety of both the editing and Pacino’s performance of the sleepless detective going slowly mad.

I stand by my rating of a 7/10 here. This film while not career defining for any of the actors involved it is a testament to their talents. Each of the three leads showcase their dramatic abilities and command a presence all their own. It is really good watch and a collaboration of some excellent talent. Like I say in the podcast if you told me you hadn’t seen it, I’d go get it and stick it on.

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