Insomnia

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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