(As promised, here’s the new entry to Altered Timescapes before the end of the week.)
Insomnia marks a minor shift in the way Christopher Nolan constructs his films, moving away from the decidedly fractured form his previous two films took towards a more linear structure. That being said, time is no less an important part of the plot, only this time it affects the character more than the viewer.
Taking place in the small, poetically named town Nightmute, Alaska, two LA detectives are put in charge of a local murder case involving a high school student after attracting questions of ethics back home. A fairly familiar premise, sure, but with a major twist: there’s no darkness at night. Thrust into a disorienting world of constant daylight, Will Dormer (Al Pacino) quickly finds difficulty sleeping. Without giving too much of the plot away, an incident of friendly fire and the killer’s (Robin Williams) taunting and threatening send Dormer into a state of insomnia-induced psychosis. Plagued by flashbacks and hallucinations, Dormer tries desperately to catch the killer while avoiding the revelation of many of his own actions.
Pacino and Williams — the latter of which was considered quite a risk in terms of casting — give excellent performances, as well as Hillary Swank playing Ellie Burr, the town’s rookie officer. Another highly recommended film. Next up is The Prestige, what is (according to Rotten Tomatoes) his least appreciated, but one that I personally quite enjoy. Then again, I’m a big sucker for plot twists.