oh please

insomnia (christopher nolan, 2002)

Insomnia shows us what Touch of Evil might have been like if Orson Welles' character wasn't such a bad guy after all. Al Pacino is perfectly cast as a guy who can't sleep; Al has pretty much looked exhausted since sometime back in the early 90s, so you could argue he's tailor-made for the title role in this picture. Longtime viewers of Pacino movies know there's two ways he can go with a role, the subtle way or the over-the-top way. Thankfully, in Insomnia he's underplaying, and it works wonderfully. His ever-so-sleepy face does most of the acting for him; like Benito Santiago's, it's a face that tells a hundred tales before he even opens his mouth. Apparently following Pacino's lead, co-star Robin Williams also tones down the outrageous mugging. His face, too, does the work, his entire character seemingly explained by the way his long nose and chin struggle to meet each other somewhere in the vicinity of the mouth. Hilary Swank's role was clearly intended, at least initially, to be the "we better stick a gurl in this movie, too" character, but then, surprisingly, she does a lot with the part, no distracting "romance" takes place, and the movie is the better for her participation in it. I haven't seen the original film, so I can't compare this remake in that regard, but I can say I found this a more satisfying film than director Christopher Nolan's earlier Memento.


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