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I'm Not Scared
2004 - R - 108 Mins.
Director: Gabriele Salvatores
Producer: Marco Chimenz
Written By: Niccolò Ammaniti
Starring: Giuseppe Cristiano, Mattia Di Pierro, Adriana Conserva
Review by: Harrison Cheung
Official Site: www.miramax.com/imnotscared/index.html
   
Directed by acclaimed Gabriel Salvatores ('Mediterraneo') and based on a novel by Italian fantasy/horror writer, Niccolo Ammaniti, ‘I’m Not Scared’ is a beautiful, languid, low voltage Italian thriller which might lack the gore or the currently in vogue hyper-editing which has translated into box office success for flicks like ‘Saw.’

A nine-year-old boy, Michele, plays in the idyllic Italian countryside, only to come across an old house. There in the yard, Michele finds a pit. And at the bottom of the pit, he sees a foot. What starts off like a Huckleberry Finn adventure set to Vivaldi becomes a fascinating story about a boy who eventually befriends the boy in the pit.

The boy in the pit, you see, is Filippo, a kidnap victim chained to the dirt floor. Michele isn’t sure what to make of the boy in the pit, not realizing at first that a crime has been committed. He brings Filippo bread and water and tries to talk to him. But, trapped in the pit for over a month, Filippo is slightly deranged and unable to open his eyes to the light. He’s a grotesque sight with blinded eyes, filthy hair, and scabby skin.

What makes the film unique is that Michele begins to suspect that his own parents are the kidnappers. In a Hollywood movie, parents can be divorced, uncaring, or neglectful, but ‘I’m Not Scared’ explores some uncharted territory where parents are actually the bad guys. And these bad guys have no qualms about harming children. It’s very much an anti-Spielberg movie, where the safety is off and the ending is unpredictable.

Naturally, Michele is torn between familial loyalty to his gruff father and his mother, and the welfare of Filippo – especially when his father and associates ponder out loud what part of the boy’s body should they cut off to hasten ransom negotiations.

Giuseppe Cristiano, the child actor portraying Michele, delivers a memorable performance of growing unease. And the film’s lush cinematography and classical music soundtrack is an interesting counterpoint to the darkening film. Just under the surface of the beautiful countryside is this hellish cave where the kidnapped boy is chained to the floor.

There is also an undercurrent of the battle of the classes. Michele’s family is a dirt poor rural family living in a tiny farming community. Filippo’s is one of affluence. And yet the two boys find common ground with their ages, their school, their likes and dislikes.

‘I’m Not Scared’ is unfairly being advertised in North America with a trailer that makes you expect a ‘Saw’-like movie -- don't you love the poster that looks like a cross of the 'Day of the Dead' and '28 Days Later?' It’s not. Taken on its own – a disturbing drama about a son’s relationship with his parents and his compassion for a victim his own age –‘I’m Not Scared’ is a thought-provoking film that might make you wonder what you really know about your family and friends.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

 
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