Insomnia | Chicago Reader

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A gaunt Al Pacino stars as an LA police detective dispatched to northern Alaska to solve the murder of a high school girl in this psychological thriller by Christopher Nolan (Memento). The pressure of the investigation and the midnight sun keep Pacino awake, and after he snaps, kills his partner, and hides the evidence, he's blackmailed by a psychotic pulp novelist (Robin Williams) who befriended the girl. Screenwriter Hillary Seitz adapted a 1997 Norwegian feature, sticking close to the original plot but heightening the similarities between cop and suspect (a fairly conventional ploy at this point). Nolan uses visual pyrotechnics to pump up the tension and add to Pacino's sense of disorientation, but the feeling he evokes isn't as forlorn, creepy, or ambiguous as in the original (though the mountain wilderness is just as forbidding). Pacino is typically excitable but also strangely sad, as if the case could take all he's got; Williams, on the other hand, tries playing against type but still goes over the top. With Hilary Swank, Martin Donovan, and Maura Tierney. 118 min.

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