Insomnia (2002), a movie review

Insomnia_2002I’m really glad I watched the Norwegian version of Insomnia (1997) first. The 2002 remake pretty much stuck to the same script, but with a few different angles. The opening of the 2002 I found much more commanding. You really saw and appreciated the isolation, ice-capped mountains, dense forests and fogs of northern Norway, more so than in the original. And I liked that in the American version, the suspect had dogs; that was a nice touch — made it a bit more likely that his story about it being an accident was more likely true, at first anyway.

TO GO WITH STORY TITLED INSOMNIA--Al Pacino and Hillary Swank in Alcon EntertainmentÕs suspense-thriller ÒInsomnia.Ó  (AP Photo/ Warner Bros. Pictures).

I think when I watched the original with the subtitles, I missed some of the nuances about the problems the Inspector was having with internal affairs, in the States in the 2002 version.  This is why he has so much trouble with the accidental shooting of his partner — he seems uncertain, himself, as to whether it was an accident or not.  And the lady cop, played by Hilary Swank in the American version, has a much more important role in the story — all the way through but especially at the end, which was different.

Actors Al Pacino (L) and Robin Williams are shown in a scene from their new suspense thriller film "Insomnia," also starring Hilary Swank. Pacino portrays a Los Angeles police detective assigned to help solve a murder in Alaska. The film opened May 24, 2002 in the United States. (NO SALES)  REUTERS/Warner Bros./Handout

It’s quite prophetic when Inspector Dormer (Al Pacino) is looking at the body of the victim in the morgue and says, “He crossed the line with this one.  You don’t come back from that.”  It’s not only prophetic for the killer, Walter Finch (Robin Williams in one of his more serious and sinister roles) but also for himself.  He, too crosses the line, but at the very end he succeeds in coming back from it — only just.

There was quite a bit of abusive sex in the original that was left out in the remake, but the remake had its share of foul language.  The shack in the newer movie was in a much more isolated place that made it more believable, I thought, as a place of privacy for clandestine meetings, and I liked the way the tip-off to the suspect came from an accidental squeal from a megaphone.  Also, the differences between the partners from Los Angeles (Pacino and Martin Donovan) was much more visible, which lent itself to the question of whether the shooting was really accidental or not, and Pacino hallucinates during the search, thinking he sees his partner as one of the searchers.  Nice touch!

All in all, I think I preferred the American remake but I’m glad I watched both.  The foreign one was interesting, partly because of the actors being unknown to me, but I thought the American one, perhaps with a bigger budget, showed the setting off better and I liked the changes to the script — especially the ending.  Absolutely amazing! * * * * *


About mysm2000

Having taught elementary school for more than 25 years and been involved in many amazing technology and curriculum projects, I find I've developed a myriad of interests based on literature I've read and music I've heard. I've followed The Wright Three to Chicago, Ansel Adams to Colorado, The Kon Tiki Expedition to Easter Island, Simon & Garfunkel lyrics to New York City, Frank Lloyd Wright to Fallingwater, Pennsylvania, and have only just begun.
This entry was posted in Actor, Actress, Drama, Movie, Opinion, Thriller and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Insomnia (2002), a movie review

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  3. My daughter watched this movie for the first time a couple of days ago. She had never seen Robin Williams play a baddie before and thought he did it so well, she’s going to watch some more of his darker movies now. Thanks for posting this, I didn’t know the American movie was a remake.


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