Insomnia (1998) - Rotten Tomatoes

Insomnia (1998)

Insomnia (1998)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Many of the best thrillers exploring the darker aspects of crime and the human psyche are filmed in dark surroundings, hence the genre film noir. Like film noir, this debut-feature from Norwegian director Erik Skjoldbjaerg is a psychological thriller that is set in the relentless light of the midnight sun. It begins with the murder of a 17-year-old girl. Her nude body, carefully cleaned and wrapped in plastic, is discovered near a small rural town. Mystified, the semi-pro police force calls Oslo and asks that two experts come to the scene. Veteran homicide detectives Jonas Engstrom (Stellan Skarsgard) and his partner Erik Vik (Sverre Anker Ousdal) are assigned the task. The townsfolk are particularly excited about the presence of the highly regarded Engstrom to locate the wily killer. But Engstrum is not as calm and cool as he seems. The infernal brightness of the sun makes it impossible for him to sleep. He then becomes deeply absorbed in the puzzling case and obsessed with the beautiful young victim. As time passes the increasingly sleep-deprived gumshoe begins to lose first his objectivity and then his sense of self. Still he approaches the case methodically, and after finding the girl's back pack, he sets a trap for the killer that is unfortunately sprung by the incompetent local cops. This in turn causes Engstrum to make a terrible mistake that ultimately results in the slow decay of his own moral standards and leads him to a fate that is inextricably linked with the killer's.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Art House & International, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Nikolaj Frobenius, Erik Skjoldbjaerg
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 27, 1999
Norsk Film


Gisken Armand
as Hilde Hagen
Kristian Figenschow ...
as Arne Zakariassen
Bjorn Moan
as Eilert
Frode Rasmussen
as Chief of Police
Guri Johnson
as Mia Nikolaisen
Maria Mathiesen
as Tanja Lorentzen
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Insomnia

Critic Reviews for Insomnia

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (8)

Full Review… | April 5, 2012
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

a masterpiece of unease and illness, the more so because the terminal sickness it describes is a universal condition.

Full Review… | December 29, 2014
Film Freak Central

... a paranoid noir thriller in broad daylight, and Skarsgard inhabits his role so naturally that when he starts going off the rails, it's as disorienting as it is disturbing.

Full Review… | October 6, 2014

It becomes clear the title of the film could just as well be 'The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - Tromsø.'

Full Review… | August 3, 2014
Movie Metropolis

fascinated by the conundrums of human psychology and moral frailty, which is why the film is centered on a protagonist who is generally dislikable as a person, yet is inherently compelling as a human subject.

Full Review… | July 28, 2014
Q Network Film Desk

Mais cínico que sua refilmagem, o filme cria menos tensão por não levar o espectador a simpatizar com seu protagonista. Em contrapartida, é mais enxuto, disciplinado e conduz sua trama com mais segurança.

July 17, 2006
Cinema em Cena

Audience Reviews for Insomnia


Really didn't enjoy this. It just seemed pointless and drags along at a slow pace.
I remember seeing the remake years ago, and I was equally unimpressed by that,
Seems to just be my week for dull movies with good casts that I can't otherwise fault past I couldn't wait for them to finish.
I couldn't recommend this movie or otherwise. Though I personally found it boring, I can't say that it is not a well made film with some good characters. But it wasn't personally for me.

Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

It is hard to believe that this is Erik Skjoldbjaerg's first film. It seems like a pro job to me. Very rarely do you get thrillers crafted this well. Almost everything is perfect. The script is as taut as possible. I saw no holes, anyhow. The plot is believable and you will never see the best twists coming. Even if you are the type who sits there and constantly guesses what's coming next during thrillers, I doubt you could. The film does a lot to avoid plot cliches. And if I'm wrong about that, if I was just blinded by other aspects of the film, it won't really matter. The characters are very well written. Especially the main character, played by Stellan Skarsgard. He is certainly one of the best actors working today and this may just be his greatest performance yet. He owns the film. The cinematography is effective. It's bleak and cold. The camera moves assuredly, and it's always where it should be. The music is perfectly subdued. The direction in general is simply amazing. The mise-en-scene is marvelous. I love the settings of the film, the threatening, rocky terrain, the broken and rusty buildings, everything. This is a must-see film. One of the best films of the 1990s.5 Stars 3-1014

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

A paranoid and claustrophobic thriller with many memorable moments. Skarsgard is great in the lead role.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

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