Movie #118 2020: Insomnia (2002)

If you know me, then you’ll probably know these two facts:

  1. Christopher Nolan is one my favourite filmmakers of our generation.
  2. Movies that are 98 per cent men generally are not my bag.

What Insomnia taught me was this: bullet point number 1 remains to be true, but bullet point number 2 sometimes becomes false when films are as good as this.

Yep, this film is mostly a bunch of dick swinging, and – sadly – Hilary Swank. But the subject matter and the intensity of the whole picture is enough to help me overcome that.

If you go to other reviews of Insomnia, you might see people claiming that this movie isn’t very ‘Nolan-esque’. I would absolutely argue against that. Some of this film is very Memento in tone, and the way it is filmed is easily comparable. Sure, there was less of the timey wimey Jeremy Bearimy stuff this time round, but it definitely has a Nolan flavour to it, which you would notice if you’d been paying any attention at all.

As usual with any Nolan picture, there are some big, hefty performances at the front of them, which in turn need some big, hefty actors. And look, can you even get any bigger than Al Pacino? It’s interesting that Nolan was more or less unknown before this movie (barring the aforementioned Memento and his debut feature-length film Following) and yet he still managed to draw him in. Not only does Pacino give a five star performance, but he also has Robin Williams as his supporting man. This isn’t your comedy juggernaut Williams though, this is your creepy, serious One Hour Photo Williams, and he excels at it too.

Unfortunately, there was a downside to this film. It is obviously not Nolan’s best movie, but with competition like Inception and Interstellar, that’s a pretty big ask. Some of this film’s story-boarding is a little slow, with some sort of reluctance to push the story forward at a loftier pace. However, the story that is told is told very well – it is not only well-executed, but it is a plot line that could have easily been boring. And let me tell you, for a boring story line, this movie kept me glued to the screen throughout the duration.

On the whole, Insomnia is a movie that has been on my radar for quite some time; I just hadn’t got round to watching it yet. Am I glad I got there eventually? Absolutely. If nothing else, it is an acting masterclass.

Sadly, Insomnia is not available for free streaming, and it strangely is not available to rent either. This is one you’ll have to purchase on DVD, I’m afraid! (I got mine for a steal at £1.99 on

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