Insomnia (1997)

Stellan Skarsgård, Sverre Anker Ousdal, Maria Mathiesen, Gisken Armand,
In a Norwegian city with a 24-hour daylight cycle a Swedish murder investigator has been brought in on a special case. Sleep deprived, he makes a horrible mistake which is discovered by the killer he has been hunting.
  • 7.2 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Nikolaj Frobenius, Writer:
  • Erik Skjoldbjærg, Director:
  • Tomas Backström, Petter J. Borgli, Tom Remlov, Producer:
9/10 / 10

An excellent psychological drama about a cooly repressed detective unabletoown up to causing the accidental death of his partner, at the same time heis persuing an author suspected of killing his young girlfriend. Thedetective story isn't important here - the detective has no troublelocatingthe killer, understanding his motives, or "solving" the crime. What isinteresting is the detective's inablility to deal with his problems andfacelife truthfully, metaphorically illustrated by his inability to block outthe sunlight and sleep. Stellan Skarsgard gives a very good performance asthe detective struggling to keep control of himself and the situation. Ashebecomes more and more tired, his life and his desires race out of control,and his need to maintain his facade causes him to make decisions that takehim to the edge of catastropy.

This film is understated in a way that the 2002 Al Pacino remake missedtheboat on. It takes place in Norway, and the director resisted thetemptationto show us a travelog of cute Norwegian villages. Most of the action takesplace in non-descript rooms, suffused with the cold grey light of thearcticsun. The acting is understated and viewers are left to understandmotivations without explicit explanation. The film is engrossing frombeginning to end, and I'll never understand why Hollywood feels it needstotry to do better - it rarely can.

/ 10

I was REALLY impressed by 'Insomnia', the directorial debut from NorwegianErik Skjoldbjaerg. If this movie is any indication of his talents he is onewriter/director to watch! I have yet to see Christopher Nolan's Hollywoodremake of this movie but I would be extremely surprised if it manages toequal it, let alone top it. (And I absolutely loved 'Memento') At first youthink you're going to see something you've seen a hundred times, amismatched "buddy" cop movie or your standard serial killer mystery, but themovie quickly enters unfamiliar territory and manages to subvertexpectations. Apart from Stellan Skarsgard ('Breaking The Waves', 'Ronin')the cast was unknown to me, but they are all first rate, and I couldn't saythere was a bad piece of acting throughout. But Skarsgard, a woefullyunderrated actor, steals the whole show with an utterly brilliant andcompelling performance that shows a depth rarely seen by Hollywood actors,especially in thrillers. 'Insomnia' is a fantastic movie that I cannotfault. The less you know about it the better. Whatever you do, SEE thismovie! Highly recommended, especially for those sick and tired at how mostthrillers made these days are so predictable and formulaic. It doesn't haveto be so, and 'Insomnia' proves it!

7/10 / 10

Erik Skjoldbjaerg's 1997 film 'Insomnia' starring Stellan Skarsgard isa fine example of the rich films being offered by the foreign filmmarket. Skarsgard plays Jonas Engstrom, a disgraced detective who, withhis partner, travels to Norway to help a small town solve the murder ofa 17-year-old girl. Due to the atmospheric conditions (there is 24 hoursunshine) and recent events, Engstrom is suffering from a severe boutof insomnia, which is causing problems with his work and psyche.

Not having seen Christopher Nolan's remake, I didn't know what toexpect from the story, so I was pleasantly surprised by theunconventional progression of the storyline and the various twistswithin the script. I have only seen Skarsgard in a couple of films, buthe is always fantastic, as he is in this film as well. There are fewactors who can keep a straight face, yet still manage to convey complexemotion, and Skarsgard is one of them. He walked through his sceneswith a somberness that is reminiscent of most M. Knight Shymalanheroes; powerful, yet weary. Skjoldbjaergs's direction is absolutelybeautiful. The colors are quite sharp, and most scenes are expertlyframed – most would make gorgeous still frames.

I plan to see the remake of 'Insomnia' eventually, but whether you haveseen it or not, I would recommend catching the film that inspired it.7/10.


10/10 / 10

It is hard to believe that this is Erik Skjoldbjaerg's first film. It seemslike a pro job to me. Very rarely do you get thrillers crafted this well.Almost everything is perfect. The script is as taut as possible. I saw noholes, anyhow. The plot is believable and you will never see the best twistscoming. Even if you are the type who sits there and constantly guesseswhat's coming next during thrillers, I doubt you could. The film does a lotto avoid plot cliches. And if I'm wrong about that, if I was just blinded byother aspects of the film, it won't really matter. The characters are verywell written. Especially the main character, played by Stellan Skarsgard. Heis certainly one of the best actors working today and this may just be hisgreatest performance yet. He owns the film. The cinematography is effective.It's bleak and cold. The camera moves assuredly, and it's always where itshould be. The music is perfectly subdued. The direction in general issimply amazing. The mise-en-scene is marvelous. I love the settings of thefilm, the threatening, rocky terrain, the broken and rusty buildings,everything. This is a must-see film. One of the best films of the 1990s.10/10.

P.S.: Christopher Nolan, the man who created the equally impressive thrillerMemento, is set to direct the American remake of this film. I personallyloved Memento (though I think I'd choose Insomnia over it if I had to), andI wish Mr. Nolan all the luck. I'm sure he knows what a challenge it's goingto be. And I certainly pray that he isn't satisfied with simply copying theoriginal. He could do so and mostly get away with it - Insomnia is quiteunderseen. I sincerely hope that he will make it his own. I alreadyrecognize one piece of the film that has to change if the setting is movedto the U.S.: Skjoldbjaerg brilliantly uses the midnight sun in this film. Idoubt it would be successful if the setting were, say, Alaska. I don't thinkAmericans would buy it. Nolan is going to have to compensate for the loss ofthe midnight sun.

9/10 / 10

I used to love going to the video store because there were always so manyfilms I wanted to see, but as my tastes became more refined, my trips tothevideo store have become more difficult. It's not easy to find movies who'sfoundation are based on cinematography and atmosphere, but this movie isjust that. This movie is slow and drawn out, and if you need lots ofdialogue to keep you interested in a film, this one won't work for you.Butif you like eerie scenes with quiet reserved characters and a sound trackthat is as slow and quiet as the pacing is, then this movie is will beperfect for you. The acting leaves nothing to be desired, the story iswellwritten, the sound track is perfectly mood enhancing, the sets are breathtaking, and the cinematography is immaculate. Slow, moody, harsh, andabsolutely beautiful. One of the best films I've seen in a longtime.