Why Insomnia Is The Least Respected Nolan Film

The 2002 remake of a 1997 Norwegian film about a Los Angeles homicide detective dispatched to a northern town to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen.
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It can be of no coincidence that this is the first post of any kind reguarding christopher nolan's insomnia, for reasons that i'll explore a bit later it seems to be the only film in nolans respected filmography that inspires the least debate or even interest for that matter even among the most ardent chris nolan fans. Most people seem to like it but not love it, as it is frequently refered to as the weakest of his films thus far so lets get into it a little. Now before this film nolan had only two indie features under his belt (following, memento) which were both successful and the latter going on to become a modern classic, and as a result drew the attention of industry peers most notably steven soderberg who championed the film (memento) which was only on a limited release at the time to help it get a much deserved wider audiance. He also heralded nolan as an emerging talent that was one to watch, it had then come to nolans attention that warner brothers had aqquired the rights to re-make the 1997 norwegian film ''insomnia'' for which the section eight production company headed by george clooney and steven soderberg would be producing the film. Now intially chris nolan wanted to both write and direct the film but this being his first foray into the studio system even as an acclaimed indie director was not enough to weild such power especially only after just two films. And it was also a matter of timing as a writer had already been hired (Hilary Seitz) so nolan came aboard as director only but i assume that he would obviously have overseen the drafts written for input and possible alterations to be made. The cast itself although strong still has a sense of studio power about it for obvious reasons, if a director is virtually unknown then the cast alone are the ones who'll be selling the film and al pacino is not only a legendary actor but is particularly strong when it comes to the ''burnt out cop'' roles. The one particularly interesting choice at the time was robin williams to play the antagonist (walter finch) as we'd not seen what he could do with a role like that before completely playing against type and doing a fine job too. That one had a whiff of nolan about the choice of robin williams as we've seen with his subsequent casting choices he has the eye for the right actor in the right role. So with all this in place we have a great cast, a great director, a great premise and story that is right up christopher nolans alley so what could be wrong? I firmly believe that the weak link in this film is the writing although compatent just was not engaging enough given the premise of the film and the moral dilema's facing the characters, had nolan himself written this film he would have made it so much more compelling had he been given that creative licence to really explore the themes presented in the film. Its no coincidence that this is the only film that he has neither written nor co-written, all he did in this case was show off his solid directing skills using someone elses material to make just that, a solid thriller. Which i suspect thats all the studio wanted in the first place. Also this film came right off the back of an acknowledged cult classic so expectations were quite high but as i've mentioned before that was an indie film by an independant studio and this was his first big studio hollywood film and it shows they were willing to take no creative risks with nolan at the time, now ironically the same studio will let him do what the hell he wants and have completely freed him creatively. Batman begins and now the dark knight have shown warner brothers that they have a genuine auter working with them who not only makes great films but more importantly to them brings in the cash. Buts lets not forget insomnia's place in nolans history remember it's still one of his highest rated films (92% rotten tomatoes) and did good buisness for warner brothers at the time and more importantly without it nolan may have never got the chance to take a trip to gotham city. Insomnia also brings nolans ability as a writer to light, with following, memento, batman begins, the prestige, and the dark knight he has consistently shown how much of an intelligent and smart writer he is which is fundamentally what will make any film work or not, ive no doubt that his next film inception will prove this point.

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I actually can't really disagree with what you said. To start with, I do like Insomnia, but I don't love it. If I should rate all Nolan movies (except for Following, which I haven't seen yet), Insomnia would be ranked lowest, though it would still get a 7/10 rating.
I also believe that Nolan could only make the step from Memento to Batman Begins with Insomnia in the middle. Nolan himself stated in the Special Features of Batman Begins that during the production of Insomnia, he heard that Warner was trying to give Batman a new life. Nolan probably signed up for it, and got the job.

To return to the point you're trying to make, I'll explain why I like this movie the least.
Just like Christopher Nolan, I'm not a huge fan of superhero movies, though the character Batman has always fascinated me. I loved the whole setting Tim Burton created in Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). I loved the way Batman was portrayed, his unique Gotham City-style, the villans, everything!
I wasn't a big movie fan back then, so the release of Batman Begins in 2005 was quiet suddenly for me. I didn't see the movie in theatres, but rented the movie just a few weeks after the DVD release. I was stunned.
Batman, Gotham City, the villans, it was all very different, but not bad-different.
I loved the movie from the beginning to the end. It was great!
Just a year later, I saw a special on Mtv about The Prestige, I had to see this movie! But agian, it took a long time before I actually saw it. Months after the DVD release I finaly bought it, and saw it for the first time. Again, I was so amazed by it that I still haven't seen it more than twice now. I think it's such a complex story that should only be watched rarely! In this way, the movie keeps getting better for me, I keep on forgetting all the details, so I can rediscover them.
By then, I got more interest in movies and directors. I already named my two favorite directors; M. Night Shyamalan and David Fincher. So I started to search for more movies of Chris: Following, Memento and Insomnia. As of today, I still haven't seen Following because it is not released on DVD here.
I found a copy of Memento. It was awesome, as today, I still haven't seen anything like it. The whole backwards-story, so unique, so brilliant!

All movies that I had seen from Christopher Nolan had something special, something that makes the movie really unique. I still remember that I was a bit dissapointed by Insomnia after seeing it.
It is not a bad movie, but it doesn't have something that is unique, like we've seen in other Nolan movies. In fact, I think that Insomnia could have been made by anyone.

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I just got home with the newly bought DVD, Imsomnia. I've never seen the movie before, so I'm very excited. I know that many people consider it as the "least perfect" Nolan-film, so I know what to expect. Maybe therefore I won't be dissapointed.

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Do let us know what you think of it when you're done watching. I personally am baffled at the lack of respect this film gets. One of my favorite Nolan films.

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It's my least favourite because I don't appreciate the story as much as his other films. The visuals are strikingly beautiful though, as expected from Nolan.

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I haven't seen the movie yet but I was curious if a 13 year-old can see this movie so to know which part I can see and which parts I cannot. But I don't think it will be least perfect cause it was directed by Nolan. But, hey, I'm just predicting. I mean it wasn't written by Nolan. So I know what I can expect about this movie.

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I do respect it the least out of Nolan's films; which doesn't mean the film is anything short of brilliant. It should be noted, however, that it is the only film directed by Chris that he did not write.

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This basically hits the nail on the head:

It is not a bad movie, but it doesn't have something that is unique, like we've seen in other Nolan movies. In fact, I think that Insomnia could have been made by anyone.


It was a very good movie, but felt a little too standard... even though we have a "hero" making deals with the villain.

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I just watched Insomnia w/ Nolan's commentary. Definitely worth listening to considering TDK, Batman Begins, and Prestige don't have commentaries. And I think only the 2 disc of Memento has one.

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I actually bumped into Insomnia on HBO and I found myself really sucked into the film. I thought it was really engaging and I found myself connected to Detective Dormer's plight. I think the film was smartly crafted and has a great story progression. I actually like this movie a lot and have watched it repeatedly. For me, I like TDK the least of Nolan's films... :oops:

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