Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday August 22, 2019 
Help/Contact

INSOMNIA (1997): DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Swedish cop Jonas Engstrom (Stellan Skarsgård) is sent to investigate the violent death of a 17-year-old Oslo student in the Arctic north in the summer. During a stakeout, Jonas accidentally shoots his own partner, Erik (Sverre Anker Ousdal), and, in his attempt to cover it up, he makes a series of mistakes that eventually make the original case seem incidental, giving the unlikely murderer a significant psychological advantage.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In this original work (which spawned the remake in 2002 with Al Pacino and Robin Williams, directed by Christopher Nolan), the police procedural is given a shake up by the presence of arctic winter, where day and night last months at a time - and a cop with insomnia. The idea is to unsettle the cop - and us. The murder and its investigation then becomes a fight on two fronts: one is the obvious, the other is the man's own disability. It adds a whole new level of tension.

Stellan Skarsgard is terrific as the determined but bedevilled cop as is Bjorn Floberg as the author with a dark secret. Indeed, dark secrets abound. Writer/director Erik Skjoldbjaerg creates a wonderfully edgy scenario from the start, retaining a wonderful tone of apprehension and tension throughout. His characters are flawed and yet likeable, or at least engaging.

The film is set in the grip of relentless daylight, disorienting for its relentless light, when all Jonas Engstrom (Skarsgard) wants to do is close his eyes and sleep. We can all identify with that particular sensation, and it's a terrific dramatic tool. This is what makes Skjoldbjaerg's work so fluently cinematic and gripping; he's more into the psychology than the police work. And this is what differentiates this original from the fine but less original remake.

Published January 10, 2008

Email this article

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

INSOMNIA:DVD (M)
(Norway, 1997)

CAST: Stellan Skarsgard, Bjorn Floberg, Sverre Anker Ousdal, Maria Mathiesen, Gisken Armand, Maria Bonnevie,

PRODUCER: Tomas Backstrom, Petter J. Borgli, Tom Remlov

DIRECTOR: Erik Skjoldbjaerg

SCRIPT: Erik Skjoldbjaerg, Nikolai Frobenius

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Erling Thurmann-Andersen

EDITOR: Hakon Overas

MUSIC: Geir Jenssen

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Eli Bo

RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1.78: 1

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella

DVD RELEASE: November 2006






© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2019