Sunday, November 4, 2012


Insomnia; thriller-drama, Norway, 1997; D: Erik Skjoldbjærg, S: Stellan Skarsgård, Sverre Anker Ousdal, Maria Bonnevie, Bjørn Floberg

Police officer Jonas Engström travels to a small town at the utter north of Norway in order to investigate the murder of a teenage girl, Tanja, whose hair was washed by her murderer. Since the town is way above the Arctic Circle, there is a constant Midnight Sun during the winter and Jonas has trouble falling asleep. In the fog, he accidentally shoots and kills his colleague. He covers it up and blames Jon, Tanja's murderer. But since Jon knows about the cover up, he blackmails Jonas into putting the blame on Tanja's boyfriend. In a chase, Jon falls and drowns, thus nobody finds out about Jonas' misconduct.

Erik Skjolbjaerg's unusual thriller exploited the rarely used Norwegian phenomenon of the Midnight Sun, equipped with a pale cinematography in order to enhance the bleak mood and the unique setting above the Arctic Circle, yet it does turn slightly anaemic itself with time, which is why the finale is almost anti-climatic. The most interesting part is the subplot where the killer blackmails the police officer Jonas (excellent Stellan Skarsgard) into planting evidence to shift the blame on someone else (an elaborate sequence where Jonas shoots a dog, then retrieves a bullet from his corpse and plants it for the investigation), and some even found parallels with Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment", yet due to cold psychology the characters were left without soul. Some events were left incomplete, such as the unusual episode where Jonas strokes the legs of a student girl, which makes it seem as if a part of their personalities is missing from the picture. Nonetheless, the director made a quality, strong and clever little film that gained fame even outside the Norwegian cinema, leading even to an eponymous US remake, which, surprisingly, in an unusual twist, turned out just a little better and more circled out than the original.


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