Read Part I here. Insomnia just didn’t have that push behind it. Instead, the first two thirds of the film seem like a drawn out episode of CSI. It’s not really until Dormer’s character begins to suffer from sleep depravation (land of the midnight sun and all) and starts losing his grip on reality that Nolan’s abilities as a filmmaker really kick in. Really like Sherlock Holmes stories, but with the all of the cop shows on television tirelessly making every single murder that happens exciting and dramatic, it’s a little difficult sometimes when you’ve got some relatively good ideas (like having the lead character become more and more disoriented with his surroundings as the movie progresses – good stuff) mixed in with stock “internal affairs investigations” and “old wise cop” routines. And then there’s Hilary Swank’s character. Well, let’s just leave that one, shall we?
The performances are really great (yes, even Hilary Swank’s). The problem is the story, and it’s something that not even Christopher Nolan can, for me, make un-cliché. Young cop (Swank), looks up to old cop, who is gruff and tough and mysterious and borderline clairvoyant. Old cop has some skeletons, and you know that it’s not going to end well for him. Old cop dies at the end of the film but redeems himself by encouraging young cop to report the facts of the case instead of covering up old cop’s crimes. Ahhhhh, closure.
But closure isn’t what I expect from a Christopher Nolan film, at least not in the conventional sense. Nolan’s films require deep introspection (and often some form of “death”) on the part of the lead character in order to fully explore the ideas that Nolan introduces. That does indeed happen in this film, but the lead-up to that event and the development of the character Dormer hardly makes the audience (or perhaps only me) sympathetic to his plight. Dormer is a corrupt cop. He “knew” that the people he set up were guilty, but we only have his word for it. Granted, we’re never given any indication that Dormer is blatantly evil, but we don’t need it. Corruption of character is enough to make me feel apathetic about any tribulations that individual faces.
Part of me just doesn’t quite want to admit that I cold don’t like this movie. In the backs of our minds, we all have that celebrity or person we idolize, that can do no wrong, whether it’s making a crappy product or committing heinous acts. We find ourselves vigorously defending the most base behaviors simply because we don’t want to see people we think exceptional as plain, ordinary people. We want them to be perfect. Just check out the fall of Tiger Woods if you don’t believe me. How many people were surprised that a rich, powerful individual who seemed to be an all-around good guy cheated on his wife with, among others, a porn star? Quite a few. How many people should have been surprised? Probably none at all. How many people should stop watching him play golf? Zero, because he is the best golfer that has ever lived.
So I will give up my quest to like Insomnia. I’ll probably watch it every five years or so, hoping that my opinion has changed but inevitably coming to the same conclusion. I’ll finally get around to seeing Following and parrot all of the indy peeps who say that’s it’s awesome, but I’ll stop short of “going there” with Insomnia. And eventually I’ll give up and fugeddaboudit.