When the body of seventeen year old Kay Connell shows up, meticulously scrubbed of any evidence that may that may give any hint as to who her killer was, LAPD detectives Will Dormer (Al Pacino) and Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) are drafted in to assist as a favour to the local police chief in Nightmute. They are welcomed with open arms in Alaska, especially by ambitious young local detective, Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank), however both Dormer and Eckhart are facing some professional issues back in L.A. In Nightmute, Dormer has a major case of insomnia, partly due to the sun never setting during the summer months, and partly due to a secret he is carrying. The lack of sleep begins to make him delusional, however something he knows is not a dream is the fact that the murderer has contacted him, informing him that they know his big secret. Pretty soon, things sway in the killer’s favour by way of blackmailing the only man who can catch him, and as if that doesn’t make Dormer’s life hard enough, Detective Burr is conducting her own investigation on the side of the murder case and it could bring Dormer’s career crashing down around him.
At last! I finally got to see Insomnia. After waiting to see it on TV for the past few months, and missing the chance to buy it in HMV, it showed up in my good, trusty second-hand entertainment shop that you could call my second home now, and so I leapt at the chance to buy it. Let me tell you it was worth the wait. My God, talk about intense!
I don’t have to tell you now that my main reason for wanting to watch Insomnia was purely the fact that Al was in it. You know as well as I do that my love for the man’s work has very quickly blossomed since watching The Godfather Trilogy over the summer. Well, that love certainly didn’t die out whilst watching this. It was slightly strange to see him play a cop without the usual fire in the belly as was displayed in Serpico, and as Vincent Hanna in Heat, but that’s not to say he was any less enjoyable to watch. Pacino was, once again, terrific with his performance as weary detective, Dormer, who seemed to realise completely the sheer gravity of the situation he was in. Dormer was yet another Pacino character who was riveting see, even if he wasn’t quite what we’re used to from him.
Of course, what’s a cat without a mouse to chase? The man Dormer was after came in the form of Walter Finch, who was played by a very uncharacteristic yet spine-chillingly mesmerising Robin Williams. Prior to this, the most serious roles I had seen him in were Good Will Hunting and
Dead Poet’s Society, but after hearing about his blinding performance in One Hour Photo (which I recorded yesterday), and seeing his name amongst an absolute knock-out cast, I thought he wouldn’t be half bad as the sociopathic writer that Insomnia chose as its main antagonist. I think it’s fair to say I wasn’t wrong either. Williams was very unnerving as Finch, and in his phone calls to Dormer, it was hard to believe that the man talking on the other end was the same one who had us all nearly crying in the likes of Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs. Doubtfire. It’s performances like this that prove Williams was a proper actor, and makes his untimely death in the summer of 2014 even sadder as I think it shows that he had so much more to offer as an actor.
The one thing that really annoyed me about this film was the fact that I already knew what I’d imagine would’ve been the big twist when it came to finally sitting down and watching it. It was my own fault, but I can at least pass on the lesson I learnt to you – IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SEEING A FILM, DO NOT GO TRAWLING THE INTERNET BEFORE WATCHING IT – because even if you are not intentionally looking for spoilers, they very rudely appear, and in this instance, I think it will greatly affect your viewing experience.
So, if I told you had I have had to rugby-tackle anyone for the one copy of this DVD in the whole shop, it’d have been more than worth it, would you consider watching it? I cannot express strongly enough how prepared I would’ve been to fight someone for this film, nor how satisfying finally getting to watch it was either. Tensions build rapidly and often in this psychological thriller, and the performances from both male leads, whilst not what we’re familiar with, are just brilliant.