I'm Not Scared

I'm Not Scared


Reviewed by: David Stanners

This is rural Italy, 1978.

Ten-year-old Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano) is out playing in the fields with his friends when he discovers a little boy lying in a hole, seemingly left for dead. At first, he's startled by the inanimate body, but day after day he approaches the boy, talks to him, feeds him and tries to befriend him.

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Back home, Michele's father, a fiery creature with a penchant for arm wrestling, has a trick or two up his sleeve. When his friend Sergio (Diego Abatantuono) turns up, without explanation, the plot thickens.

Michele sees his parents with Sergio and another local hoodlum anxiously discussing the news about a boy, named Filippo, kidnapped from Milan, and begins to piece together the puzzle.

I'm Not Scared is reminiscent of Rob Reiner's classic, Stand By Me, in its endearing child-like curiosity and need to know something your friends don't, but essentially it lacks the brilliance of narrative and leaves too many dots unjoined to be a satisfactory mystery drama.

It begins promisingly as a great rural legend, experienced through the innocent eyes of a country boy, who finds something extraordinary in an otherwise hot and monotonous summer. His father and Sergio's furtive scheming, his mother's collusion and quiet disdain, build tension and suspicion.

On one level, this is satisfactory. The story is told from Michele's perspective and so there are deliberate holes in the plot, reflecting his lack of understanding about the kidnapping and what role Sergio and his family might have played. On another level, it is frustrating - motives for the crime are unclear, character development remains minimal and the sub plot refuses to unwind.

Still, there are fraught moments, as well poignant ones. Italian directors have a habit of capturing beauty with subtlety and when Michele and Filippo embrace one another - despite the volatile situation - there is a quiet sense of freedom and innocent abandon only the young can enjoy.

It's a pity Salvatores doesn't divulge the plot with the simplicity of a child. Or maybe that's the point.

Reviewed on: 10 Jun 2004
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I'm Not Scared packshot
A country boy makes a startling discovery, while his family try to hide their secret from him.
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Director: Gabriele Salvatores

Writer: Niccolo Ammaniti

Starring: Giuseppe Cristiano, Mattia Di Pierro, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Dino Abbrescia, Giorgio Careccia, Diego Abatantuono

Year: 2003

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Italy/Spain/UK


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Stand By Me
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