In a remote Alaskan town called Nightmute, the murder of a teenage girl has shocked the tight-knit community. The Los Angeles Police Department sends two of its cops–both under investigation by Internal Affairs–to try to solve the crime in Christopher Nolan’s film based on Erik Skjoldbjaerg’s 1997 Norwegian version starring Stellan Skarsgard. The experienced, weathered Will Dormer (Al Pacino) has nothing in life except for the police force; his younger partner Hap (Martin Donovan) has a family to support and is willing to turn state’s evidence to protect them. Local cop Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank) is excited to work with her hero Dormer–until she starts uncovering some questionable situations. It isn’t long before Dormer finds the murderer–reclusive writer Walter Finch, played with subtle nuance by Robin Williams–but Finch knows a secret that could bring Dormer down. Director Nolan, who stunned audiences with 2001’s inventive MEMENTO, here crafts an atmospheric psychological thriller bathed in whites and grays. The acting is uniformly excellent, especially Pacino’s performance as a cop on the edge and Williams’ soft-spoken, low-rent crime novelist. Because it never gets dark in Alaska at this time of year, Dormer (a play off the Spanish word “dormir,” which means “to sleep”) is unable to fall asleep, light always streaming into his hotel room–watching him slowly unravel is one of the film’s many treats.



August 30, 2002


Christopher Nolan


Hillary Seitz (screenplay) Nikolaj Frobenius (1997 screenplay)


Warner Bros.


Drama, Mystery, Thriller




118 minutes