Sleepless / Non ho sonno (2001)

3.5 out of 5

While certainly, stylistically at least, a piece for the twenty first century, Sleepless is nevertheless a reworking of the classic giallo themes as established by Mario Bava in the 1960s and popularized by director Dario Argento with his animal themed whodunnits in the early 1970s. Not only does Argento revisit classic genre tropes but in this highly self referential work he rehashes a number of common signatures as a director and also pays homage to some of his most celebrated works while packaging the who thing in a more contemporary setting.

The violence is relentless and the red stuff is drawn in some imaginative and pretty uncompromising ways as an amateur sleuth and a retired police officer pick their way through the expected red herrings all the way to the convoluted and expectation confounding finale.

While in no way as stylized as Dario's more celebrated works there are the occasional distinct flashes of Argento brilliance amongst what visually is, for this director at least, a surprisingly conventional and restrained approach to the aesthetics.

In some respects a greatest hits montage of career spanning semiotics, thematics and other perennial obsessions this alone should render Sleepless an essential as a memory trigger in preparation for one considering embarking on a nostalgic odyssey through celebrated earlier titles. However, while this alone may prove a decent enough morsel for the neophyte, the initiated will see this maybe little more than an aperitif to a more substantive Profondo rosso or Tenebrae for which this later outing will no doubt make one nostalgic.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics