Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

So last night I watched Chris Nolan's version of Insomnia, after which I lay awake for about five hours unable to sleep!

I was still awake at 6am, and had to get up for church at nine. Maybe I should have done this before the film, in order to promote empathy with the lead character while watching, instead of aftewards?

Even now I find my consciousness entering into Will Dormer's (Al Pacino) first stages of sleep-deprivation, as I type at this keyboard with both curtains pulled-across to feebly block-out the blinding sunshine outside. Boom! There – I just had one of his blink-and-you'd-miss-it flashbacks of the movie itself last night.

Yep, my waking/sleeping self can still see snatches of that bleak Alaskan landscape... the girl whose murder he and his partner were dispatched there to investigate... his partner's accidental death at Dormer's own gun... now I'm getting snatches of Dormer's own flash-hallucinations of his dead partner's accusing stare at him through the trees...

There's a phone to my right. I really hope that doesn't ring.

"Well, Mr Goble, I see it's 17:47 British Summer Time, meaning that in the last 30 hours you've only spent three of them asleep. So how is your review coming along? Starting to ramble a bit? Going off at tangents and just writing-down your own dreamy stream-of-consciousness yet?"

I could blame it all on director Chris Nolan, but over the years he's quietly managed to become one of my favourite directors.

His tale of an arrogant cop whose slight loss-of-faith in the US judicial system turns into a slippery slope to his own ruination is not only well worked-out but, as usual for Nolan, told very very clearly.

Despite this being a murder-story, I kept track of who everyone was, and was pleased to find that this was much more an examination of the subtle flaws in each of the players' ethics.

There's no bland love story or dumbed-down realisations of obvious simple truths here. This is a good, thoughtful film.

Just this once, Nolan actually resists the temptation to tell the narrative in non-chronological order, like he did in Following, Memento and Batman Begins.

Well, mostly. Like I said above, Dormer's sleeplessness due to Alaska's sun never setting does increasingly riddle his attention with flashbacks and daydreams, but these last barely a second, so hardly count as scenes. I'm getting flashbacks of those same flashbacks now...

I was confused by the amount of time that Dormer spends pursuing Walter Finch (Robin Williams) in secret, as Dormer's colleagues must surely have some false perception of his whereabouts during these sequences. I did wonder if maybe these daylight scenes were set at 'night' while they were all asleep, but the crowds of civvies that Dormer chases Finch through suggest otherwise. I guess a clearer timeframe, eg. more shots of clocks, might have helped.

A strong story, with strong characters, well-acted, competently directed and which never even threatens to descend into sentimentality.

Apart from the swearing, this is what I watch dramas for. Excellent work Mr Nolan. Ahh, what the heck - ten.

I must be dreaming.


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