Freeze Frame #1: Insomnia

There’s a scene in Insomnia where Al Pacino tries to get some sleep in his hotel room, but since it’s daylight 24×7 in Nightmute, he can’t get any sleep. So he papers all the windows so the light can’t come in, but it still keeps streaming in through the gaps.

Background: Pacino plays a cop who has been called to Nightmute, Alaska on a special assignment, to investigate a homicide. Back home, there’s an ongoing Internal Affairs investigation that might well lead to his doorstep. And to complicate everything, he sets a trap for the killer, and while chasing him through the mist in a forest, he shoots his partner accidentally. He covers it up by blaming the killer, but the killer knows the truth and blackmails him.

The movie is all allegory: Pacino is in a place where it’s always day, and he can’t get any sleep. But the condition referred to in the title is not of his body, but of his conscience. And I thought the scene in the hotel room brilliantly encapsulated it.

You don’t see there, a man who can’t sleep because the sunlight is streaming through his hotel room window. You see there, a man who can’t sleep, and wishes it were because the sunlight is streaming through his hotel room window.

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