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  Film Reviews: I’m Flawed! No I’m Flawed! Respect Me!: Insomnia  

Sunday, May 26
I’m Flawed! No I’m Flawed! Respect Me!: Insomnia
Fresh off of celebrating Pat Conroy’s 30th Birthday, Husband and I took a short walk down to the Arena Grand to see a movie. The timing gods being what they were, Insomnia won the tiebreaker (About A Boy was the other contender). Most individuals may be thinking, “hey is that Robin Williams gonna be goofy in a murder movie?” but as one of the more astute theater goers noticed during the opening sequence – “I don’t think this is going to have that many laughs.”

Director Christopher Nolan (of “Memento” fame) brings us a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film of the same name. Resetting the film in Northern Alaska, Nolan is able to bring the main trick of the Norwegian film to the American remake – the period of 24-hour sunlight that starts in the summer. (Husband is nitpicky, as he feels that they weren’t far enough north to experience this…and because the kids were still in school – husband enjoys pointing these things out during movies.) Nightmute, Alaska is a remote fishing village – one that is not easy to fly into as demonstrated by the breathtaking opening sequence as Los Angeles Detectives Will Dormer (Al Pacino) and Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) fly in to help with the investigation of a 17-year-old girl’s death.

The reasons for Dormer and Eckhart being in Alaska become more convoluted, as we discover that the two of them are in the middle of a rather vicious I.A. investigation that seems to be set up to put Dormer away. This automatically makes Dormer and Eckhart flawed. The local police are so under-funded that they don’t even wear real badges – each of them has a jacket with a silk-screened likeness of a badge, so maybe we should just expect that they’d only get cops under investigation when help is requested. Then there’s our murderer – Robin Williams (I’m giving nothing away here, people, just watch the trailer) who is a frustrated author with a little murder/performance anxiety problem – also deeply flawed. We even find out that the murder victim’s life was filled with a flawed best friend that was sleeping with her flawed boyfriend. If it weren’t for that meddling girl, Ellie, the detective with the local police and her meddling, all of these flaws might come together to cover up everyone’s misdeeds. Fortunately, Ellie’s male superiors spend most of their time calling her Nancy Drew, having her fetch beers and solve the local misdemeanors lest she get the idea that she’s an equal.

Maura Tierney, of “Radio News” fame, serves two very important purposes in the film. First, she points out that only two types of people live in Alaska – those who were born into it and those that are running away from something. Yeah, if you didn’t get it loud and clear before she said it, well, then you certainly didn’t get the impact of her flipping the light switch on Detective Dormer. See, Dormer had succumbed to the problem of 24-hour sunlight – the inability to sleep (hence the title). While we experience the ebb and flow of sleeplessness that Dormer experiences over six days (most of us remember that as finals week during our college years) without the benefits of No-Doz, Jolt Cola and Triple Espressos, we might find ourselves foolish enough to believe that it’s all about the light. Thanks to Maura’s keen ability with the light switch, all doubt is immediately erased. I believe on the DVD that one of the special sections will be “Screen Tests” where we see many of the B-list sitcom actresses flipping light switches on and off – I heard that Kathy Griffin’s performance was amazing!

Nolan is proving himself to have actual talent – with the unfortunate luck of opening a dark, film noir the month of Spider Man and Star Wars. This tight little film may be lost amongst the flashy glitz, but that is merely because it concentrates on silly little things like plot and character development.

The Usual:

Recommendation: Full price admission – go early so you can talk all about it over dinner afterwards.

Annoying Theater Goer: Seriously, I think the generation just ahead of us has lost it. It had to be the late 50-somethings behind us in a large group that were still trying to sound cool. I about lost it when I heard one say “Dude, don’t bogart the popcorn!” I must remember this moment as not to repeat it when I’m in my 50s.

Main Reason To See This Film: I forgot just how good of an actor Robin Williams can be – here you get the full treatment. Quiet, subdued and intense all at the same time.

Main Reason Not To See This Film: Nolan is not quite convinced that his audience will understand just how flawed his characters are – this causes him to drive home a few points to excess.

MPAA Rating: R

Nudity: Yes – be warned that it is strictly for the necrophilia crowd.

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