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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great Suspense Thriller

    A classic "good vs evil" story-line that explores "does the ends justify the means" concept. Pacino is a good cop with good intentions but he is playing judge, jury and executioner.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Guilt, Sleep, and Ethical Responsibility, Insomnia is a Great Film

    This film, as vanguard and insightful as it is suspenseful, engenders a deep appreciation for the guilt, remorse, and conscience of a good cop beleaguered by a past that, to put it mildly, blurs the fine blue line between a detective on the endless pursuit to capture a murderer, and the willingness to go to extraordinary lengths to effect that end result, including planting evidence on a suspect. Will Dormer (Al Pacino) is sent to an obscure Alaskan outpost that is the very essence of "the land of the midnight sun," wherein the sun shines for the duration of summer, followed by months of incessant darkness in winter. Dormer along with his longtime detective partner, are sent here to not only help with the investigation of a murder of an adolescent girl, but also to escape an Internal Affairs investigation inside the Los Angeles Police Department concerning Dormer's unorthodox and illicit praxis of planting evidence.

    As the film progresses, Dormer is becoming increasingly disturbed, as much by the death of his partner at his own hands, as the lack of sleep subsequent to it. What can only be described as a proverbial cat-and-mouse game ensues between Dormer and a man (Robin Williams), who happens to have witnessed the former taking the life of his partner by mistake, and the latter then tries to use this knowledge to his advantage. Aided by the very impetuous Ellie Burr (Hillary Swank), a rookie out of the academy who had actually studied one of Dormer's investigations (The Leeland Street Murders), Dormer is charged with informing Burr of the nuances of police investigation, while simultaneously trying to find the killer of Kay Connell, the adolescent girl that was murdered which he was sent to investigate. What follows is a unique insight into what can happen when a good cop turns rogue, with a complete absence of sleep, and what might transpire between a man looking for redemption, a man looking for someone to understand and listen to him, and the realization that occurs that the end does not by necessity justify the means, but rather it is the willingness to play by the rules of law, and to that end, to do the right thing in the face of ethics.

    By virtue of studying human behavior in all of its contexts for over a decade in college, I can attest to the accuracy of the emotional underpinnings of guilt and remorse, as evidenced by Dormer's emotional turmoil, and the human propensity to concomitantly grapple with such feelings while dealing with a depraved extortioner, hunting for that very killer, investigating suspects, solving the case so that he can go back to LA to face his past, get very much needed shut-eye, all the while staying in a tiny town on the fringes of existence, with what seems like an eternal sun, dealing with the loss of his partner at his own hands, and ultimately convincing the ethical Burr to "not loose your way." Insomnia goes well beyond the almost perfunctory nature of many "mystery-suspense-psychological thrillers" that audiences flock to in order to make sense of an insensible world, without the need for a PSY degree, and this film conveys this somewhat imperceptible facet of human existence; guilt, remorse, and ethical responsibility inherent in the human condition and to police officers who must deal with this on a daily basis.

    Michael Wade

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