Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 180 Degrees: A conversation with Christopher
Nolan and Al Pacino (17 mins); Day for Night: Making of Insomnia
(7 mins); 'In The Fog' with cinematographer Wally Pfister; 'In
The Fog' with production designer Nathan Crowley; Commentary by
Christopher Nolan; Commentary by Hilary Swank, Nathan Crowley,
Dody Dorn, Wally Pfister and Hillary Seitz; 'Eye Wide Open' -
featurette on insomniacs (7 mins); Additional scene (with/without
commentary); 'From The Evidence Room' - stills gallery with music.
BRITISH director Christopher Nolan made Hollywood sit up and
take notice with the acclaimed Memento,
which came after the black-and-white, low-budget Following, and
his latest, Insomnia, is further evidence of an exceptional talent.
The movie is a cracking psychological thriller which grips from
the off, boasting some mesmerising star turns and a seat-gripping
moral conundrum (as every great thriller should!).
It finds Al Pacinos respected LAPD detective, Will Dormer,
travelling to a small Alaskan town with his partner (Martin Donovan)
to investigate the murder of a 17-year-old girl, while trying
to escape the unwanted attention of an Internal Affairs investigation.
Things take a turn for the worse, however when, during a bodged
stakeout in hostile terrain, Dormer accidentally shoots and kills
his partner, before being drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse
with the primary suspect, novelist Walter Finch (Robin Williams),
who saw what happened.
The ensuing battle-of-wits finds Pacino attempting to outsmart
Williams without tarnishing his reputation, while fending off
another investigation, led by Hilary Swanks unproven, yet
perceptive, local cop, who idolises the career veteran.
Pacino, as ever, is on tip-top form, shying away from some of
the histrionics that have crept into recent performances.
His angst-ridden detective, deprived of sleep because of the
regions perpetual sunlight, and struggling to cope with
his increasingly impaired judgement, is a virtual masterclass
in mounting despair, effortlessly conveying the massive psychological
pressure his cop is forced to work under.
And he is more than matched by Williamss calculated turn
as the cold-hearted killer, in a role which marks a welcome break
away from the sentimental slush of recent projects.
The actors controlled restraint is the perfect foil to
Pacinos fiery cop and the scenes between the two are electric
- whether its Pacino revealing that youre as
mysterious to me as a blocked toilet is to a plumber or
turning the tables on his tormentor in an interrogation room,
you can practically feel the sparks.
A lot of the credit for this must go to Nolan and Dody Dorns
exceptional editing, which serve to bring out the best in Hillary
Seitzs screenplay (which is based on the 1997 Norwegian
thriller of the same name).
Nolans use of location is also first rate and as much a
character as those which populate it. The snow-capped mountains,
log-strewn lakes, and spewing waterfalls are as breathtaking as
they are dangerous, all possessing an unseen threat beneath the
surface, and all contributing to and enhancing the expertly-realised
set pieces (from a chase across the logs, to the opening shot
of a seaplane flying over the vast glaciers).
The same visual flair and use of flashbacks that were defining
trait of Memento are also here in abundance, serving to create
a remake which feels original and exciting (much as Steven Soderbergh,
who serves as executive producer with George Clooney, did with
Nolan, however, opts for a far more sinister path and has managed
to find darkness in a place which, on the surface, has none. The
subsequent journey is one of the most thrilling mainstream rides
of the year which truly recaptures the magic of movies.