A part of this viewing listCriterion Collection Spine #47:Erik Skjoldbjærg’s Insomnia.

Ever need a good night’s sleep so badly that you just stop caring about anything and everything around you? Your morality foggily disintegrates, your goals become disjointed, your ego shrivels, and even your id is only capable of short bursts of primeval action. That’s what life in general is like above the Arctic Circle, apparently. Even worse if you’re a disgraced investigator from below the circle and you show up during the Midnight Sun to solve a seemingly perfect murder and you get so messed up on sleep deprivation that you accidentally kill your partner while the murderer you’re hunting watches.

All of this is wonderfully conveyed through the terrifying, evenly lit atmosphere of Norway, the constant white light, white fog, white sky, white buildings is nearly sickening; the blurriness between reality and hallucination, often conveyed through spinning, disoriented camera movements, puts a viewer in nearly the same emotional state as Detective Engstrom. While we loll about passively in our stupor we watch him push himself to both apprehend the killer and protect his own ass.

While the story is a fairly typical crime drama, the added conceit provided by an environment where the sun just spins around the sky adds another layer of difficulty to the plot, and the additional “what is real” adds a believable element of uncertainty to the film that is akin to something you’d expect from a psychological horror film but that doesn’t require a suspension of disbelief to gain purchase.

I have no interest in watching the Hollywood remake starring Al Pacino in Alaska.

Share Your Thought