Non Ho Sonno (Sleepless) (Dario Argento, 2001)
[originally posted 22Nov2002]
Dario Argento moves back to giallo, which seems to have distressed a number of reviewers. He also didn’t take himself or the film too seriously, which seems to have distressed even more (one of the early gimmicks for the film was posting polls on its website asking the fans which methods of offing his characters they’d most like to see). Somewhat depressing, because they’re missing all the fun of this minor gem. To be fair, though, the fans don’t seem to be listening; this is Argento’s first film that’s been widely available in America since its video release in a number of years (possibly going back as far as 1983’s Creepers). Someone had to decide it needed to be on the new release shelf at your local vidshack. And more power to ‘em.
Non Ho Sonno is the story of Giacomo (Stefano Dionisi, probably best known to American audiences from The Loss of Sexual Innocence), whose mother was murdered twenty years before by a psychopath known as the Killer Dwarf. (Yes, you heard me right.) At the time, detective Ulisse Moretti (Max von Sydow) promised the young Giacomo he’d find the killer, even if it took him his whole life. Well, it didn’t take that long; the alleged Killer Dwarf, a friend of Giacomo’s named Vincenzo de Fabritiis, took his own life not long after. The problem is, twenty years later, the murders start again, and with the unmistakable signature of the Killer Dwarf.
Giallo isn’t known for being deep, meaningful cinema. The enterprising video renter (for you’re not going to find giallo in American cinema, thanks to Argento’s Profondo Rosso doing profondo malo when released here in 1975, thanks to a butchered cut far more offensive than any of the movie’s murders) who picks up a giallo should expect a whole lot of blood, a sweeping cinematic style that
is unique in cinema (it has been called, and rightly, “operatic”), and a murder mystery with a twist ending. And in the best giallo, even though you know the twist ending is coming, it’s usually not what you’re guessing it will be—which is, of course, the hallmark of a fine mystery.
It’s also worth noting that Non Ho Sonno pairs Argento once again with one of his golden boys, Gabriele Lavia, who played two different characters named Carlo in Profondo Rosso and Inferno. (Here, his character—the father of Lorenzo, Giacomo’s best friend—does not have a first name revealed during the movie. Want to take a guess at it?) Lavia is always fun to watch, and it’s nice to see him play someone who’s not unhinged, for once. American audiences who have missed out on giallo may know him from the wonderful Tim Roth film The Legend of 1900.
The best giallo films, like Profondo Rosso, will warp your head in ways you never imagined. The rest will allow you to turn off your mind for two hours and be grandly entertained. Non Ho Sonno falls into the latter category, but that’s not to denigrate it. If you’re new to Argento, and your local vidshack isn’t fond of carrying twenty-five-year-old murder mysteries, this is a fine place to start. *** ½
Trailer. The full film is available on Youtube unsubbed and with Spanish subs.