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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Insomnia

Starring: Al Pacino, Robin Williams
Director: Christopher Nolan
Rated: R
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: May 2002
Genre: Suspense

*Also starring: Hilary Swank, Maura Tierney, Jonathan Jackson, Martin Donovan, Paul Dooley, Jay Brazeau

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

Director Christopher Nolan follows his acclaimed "Memento" with this conventional remake of a 1997 Norwegian thriller about a hard-boiled policeman trying to track down a killer. Will Dormer (Al Pacino) is an LAPD veteran who's sent with his longtime partner Hap (Martin Donovan) to a small Alaskan town to investigate the brutal murder of a 17 year-old girl. They're met by Ellie (Hilary Swank), a wide-eyed local cop who's in awe of Will's legendary expertise, and the stakes escalate when Hap is killed during a stakeout on a fog-shrouded beach. Problem is: during the summer in Nightmute, the halibut-fishing capital of the world, the sun never sets and the perpetual daylight plays havoc with sleep. Soon Will's meticulous mind is clouded by insomnia as he narrows down the suspect list to Walter Finch (Robin Williams), a malevolent crime-fiction writer who cleverly manipulates Will's vulnerabilities and ensnares him into a dangerously compromising game of cat-and-mouse. Will's sleep-deprivation is the physical manifestation of his psychological struggle: "A good cop can't sleep because a piece of the puzzle is missing. A bad cop can't sleep because his conscience bothers him." Al Pacino captures the subtle intensity of Will's moral dilemma which becomes more corrosive and complex with a brewing Internal Affairs scandal back in L.A., while Hilary Swank is credible with a rookie's dogged dedication to duty. After "Death to Smoochy," Robin Williams convincingly tackles yet another menacing, despicable villain. Christopher Nolan's collaboration with "Memento" cinematographer Wally Pfister makes this noirish tale of a damaged detective compelling to watch despite its slow pace. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Insomnia" is an intense, engrossing 8. It's an ironic, edgy eye-opener.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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