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.

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