Insomnia

Insomnia

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

For half the year it never gets dark in Norway. Great for party animals and mountain bikers, but no midnight feast for those who need their shut-eye, like Jonas Engstrom (Stellan Skarsgard) a Swedish detective, sent to Oslo to help solve the brutal killing of a student.

What gives Erik Skjoldbjaerg's debut such an impact is the whiteness of the light and the darkness of the soul. Engstrom is not a forthcoming man, compared to Erik Vik (Sverre Anker Ousdal), his assistant, a charmer of the old school, and sleep deprivation causes him to make fatal mistakes, arriving at a state of paranoia that brings him closer to the murderer in thought and deed.

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The whodunit element becomes less important as Engstrom's mental state appears more fractious by the minute. A repressed, controlled man, with a sense of humour equivalent to stressed concrete, he struggles with a fear, blacker than the night that never comes. Skarsgard (Breaking The Waves, Ronin) has the intelligence and authority to play this role, as if he slept in his clothes, which he didn't, because the damned light won't switch off. As an actor, he is contained. Skjoldbjaerg stretches him to a point where emotions break out. Like pus from a boil.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A detective gets drafted in to help solve a murder... but sleepless nights threaten his sanity.
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Director: Erik Skjoldbjaerg

Writer: Nikolaj Frobenius, Erik Skjoldbjaerg

Starring: Stellan Skarsgrd, Sverre Anker Ousdal, Bjrn Floberg, Gisken Armand, Kristian Figenschow, Thor Michael Aamodt, Frode Rasmussen

Year: 1997

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Norway

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