I'm Not Scared
(Io non ho paura)

italian movies

I'm Not Scared (Io non ho paura)
Made in: Italy
Language: Italian
Director: Gabriele Salvatores
Starring: Giuseppe Cristiano, Mattia Di Pierro, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Dino Abbrescia, Diego Abatantuono
Year: 2003

Based on the novel by Niccoló Ammaniti

Synopsis: The year is 1978. In an isolated town in southern Italy, ten year-old Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano) and his younger sister Maria (Giulia Matturo) live a simple life of having fun, and trying with various degrees of success, to stay out of trouble.

While playing near an abandoned house, Michele comes across a large, hidden pit in the ground. In it, he discovers a boy his own age named Filippo (Mattia Di Pierro), who's being held hostage there.

Taking pity upon Filippo, Michele secretly feeds and later befriends him. Soon after, Michele learns from a news report that the boy is being held for ransom. And to Michele's horror and confusion, he learns that his own father is caught up with a group of criminals who are behind Filippo's kidnapping.

The Good: At it's core, I'm Not Scared is a very simple story that is expertly told from the point of view of an innocent child. Through Michele, director Gabriele Salvatores creates a powerful and touching film that highlights both the humbling compassion and unconscionable cruelty that people can possess.

Giuseppe Cristiano is wonderful as the protagonist, and through his simple worldview we see how greed and cynicism can blind adults to seeing the clear difference between right and wrong. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the supporting characters are all vivid and authentic. I'm Not Scared has a lot of the same qualities seen in other acclaimed italian movies dealing with the same themes.

The Bad: Not much to complain about here, although it would have been nice if the motivation behind Michele's father was more clearly explained.

Who would like this movie: This one's for you if you like Italian movies and dramas that deal with human nature. I'd say that I'm Not Scared is pretty much in the same vein as works by Giuseppe Tornatore, but definitely has its own look and feel.

As far as foreign films go, it's accessible to mainstream audiences. Although engaging, it's definitely not passive entertainment and is meant to make viewers think.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review Written by: Joe Yang

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