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Erik Skjoldbjaerg's first film Insomnia (1997) is, on the surface,
a police detective film but it uses that structure only to offer a
character study. Nominally, this is a film about a serial killer: in reality
it is a film about a disturbed psychotic police detective.
A celebrated Swedish investigator, Jonas (just recovering from a scandal because
he was found in bed with a witness), is invited to Norway, along with his
partner Erik Vik, to help investigate the murder of a girl, Tanja.
The murderer dumped her body in a garbage bag and left no traces.
When he finds the girl's backpack,
Jonas has a brilliant idea: he goes on tv and proclaims that the girl's
backpack holds the solution to the secret. He and his partner stake out the
place where the backpack is. The killer shows up as they expected, but in the
shootout Jonas accidentally kills his partner. Instead of admitting the
mistake, he tells the police that Vik was killed by the murderer.
Determined to find the girl's murderer, Jonas takes her best friend Froya for
a ride to the place wher they found the body. In the car he gropes her.
Scared, she tells him that Tanja was seeing an older man, a writer named Jon.
Jonas drives to Jon's apartment, but Jon has escaped.
Jonas sees him on a bus and starts running after it.
Run over by a car, asks the driver to keep following the bus.
He finally catches up with the writer and confronts him.
The writer admits he murdered the girl, but he also saw Jonas kill Vik.
The writer candidly admits he has been killing people for twenty years.
Jonas decides to continue the cover-up and to frame Tanja's boyfriend Eilert.
Jonas plants a gun in Eilet's room and then sees him get in bed with Froya.
A female detective, Ane, is beginning to suspect that something is wrong with
The hotel desk girl is very friendly to Jonas. She lets him kiss her but then
he won't stop and Jonas almost rapes her.
Jonas, who can't sleep well because of the very long day of Norway's summer,
is still visited by the ghost of Vik.
The police arrest the kid. Froya tries in vain to convince Ane that Eilert
would never kill anybody and that the killer must be the writer, but Jonas
tells Ane that Froya is in love with Eilert, implying that her testimony
is not reliable.
However, Ane wants to investigate the writer. The writer relies on Jonas
to be on his side, but Jonas can't stop the woman. However, the writer
manages to escape.
Jonas follows him to a decrepit hut and, thinking that Jonas wants to kill him,
Jon runs away, but accidentally falls in the sea and dies. The case is solved.
The police congratulate Jonas for solving yet another case.
While he is packing to return to Sweden, Ane walks in and tells him that she
found one of his cartridges where Vik was killed.