Vet Italo director Silvano Agosti’s nearly one-man-band project “The Sleeping Wife” has a premise ripe for traditional sex-comedy treatment — husband follows spouse’s sleep-talking instructions to spice up their moribund conjugal life — but its execution heads in another direction entirely. Quirky, semi-experimental narrative is a modest, albeit charming, divertissement; post-fest circuit commercial prospects are slight beyond select broadcast showcasing.
Still handsome, virile and willing to go full-frontal after nearly four decades onscreen, Franco Nero lends a gentle comic lilt to his role as a filmmaker distressed by his slinky blonde wife’s (Eleonora Brigliadori) frigidity. It’s unclear whether the cause is his infidelity, their childlessness, her depression, or all three. But when Anna begins speaking in her sleep, the seemingly random requests she makes — that he wear all-green clothing, make love during rainfall, etc. — have a revivifying effect on her spirits and their relationship. Enigmatic progress includes surreal flashbacks to protag’s childhood, and his reunion with a long-ago lover (Laura Linzi). Pic is too ephemeral to leave a lasting impression, but its bittersweet, whimsical tenor is pleasing. Helmer’s agile lensing and a lustrous Morricone score are major plusses.