Non ho sonno
I Can't Sleep
It’s no surprise at all that Dario Argento’s return to the giallo form in 2001 with Sleepless divided critics and fans. Within the context of Argento’s output at the time (don’t forget that the despised Phantom of the Opera  directly preceded it) Sleepless has to be considered a semi return to form. But within the context of Argento’s career as a whole Sleepless is an unexceptional thriller. It was the first film since 1993’s Trauma that didn’t feature the minimal talents of his daughter Asia, and this is of immediate benefit to the film. Furthermore Argento was able to cast Max von Sydow as the retired detective Moretti. The screen presence of von Sydow adds immeasurable quality to the proceedings and is a vital aspect of the film, because the other performances (with the notable exception of Gabriele Lavia, who isn’t in the film anywhere near enough) are utterly abysmal. The screenplay was written by Argento in collaboration with Franco Ferrini and in many places shows plot ingenuity the likes of which had become rare in Argento’s cinema. But at the same time Sleepless abounds with the distant echoes of more creatively successful Argento films. Fortunately this self-referential quality never destabilises the film, as it might in lesser hands. But the realisation that this has all been seen and done before damages the films ability to stand on its own.
Max von Sydow as the retired detective Moretti
A novel use of a musical instrument!
© Shaun Anderson 2011