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I’m Not Scared (2003) – DVD Review


Written by: Niccolò Ammaniti and Francesca Marciano, based on Ammaniti’s novel
Directed by: Gabriele Salvatores
Starring: Giuseppe Cristiano, Mattia Di Pierro, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Dino Abbrescia, Diego Abatantuono

Released by: Miramax
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Rent it.

Michele (Cristiano) is doing what most kids did during the summer before the popularity of console gaming, playing aimlessly with his friends. Amidst the wheat fields of southern Italy riding his bike and participating in the innocently cruel games children do, Michele comes across something, or rather someone that will change how he sees the world. In a hole in the ground covered by a sheet of metal is a dirty half-crazed boy, Filippo (Di Pierro). Who this boy is and what his connection is to Michele’s parents (Abbrescia, Sánchez-Gijón), and their new ‘house guest’ Sergio (Abatantuono) will make Michele makes adult decisions and conclusions and take horrible risks so someone so young.

[ad#longpost]In most movies with children, they are portrayed as either cherubic beacons of innocence or brilliant manipulators of their surroundings. I’m Not Scared manages to show children as they really are, smarter than we give them credit for, but still not able to completely handle the world and all its moral complexities. When Michele encounters the boy in the hole, he tries to fit this unfathomable situation in a fairytale explanation. It never occurs to him that the boy has been kidnapped; that kind of evil hasn’t been introduced is his life. So while he brings the boy water and bread, Michele doesn’t call the police. He’s too young to make that deductive connection. But realization dawns as the adults around him, including his parents, talk about their plans for the boy.

Everyone gets a chance to show their talents and you don’t feel anyone is there simply to pad the scene. I was really impressed with Di Pierro who plays the kidnapped boy Filippo. Depicting someone who has been underground for days, half mad with privation and the total darkness is a challenge for an adult actor, but this kid manages to pull it off. The cinematography deserves a special mention with the amazing vistas of yellow wheat fields as far as the eye can see. This is obviously to juxtapose the darkness of the underground and the deeds done. However, under that you almost feel the heat of summer making everything dry and brittle, almost fragile. The fields may look like a golden carpet, but the individual stalks can snap so easily. That layering shows the director is willing to give us more than a paint-by-number Hollywood thriller.

Given the density of this movie, it is extremely irritating that there are no special features. I would have loved to hear a commentary from the author on how he handled taking the book and turning it into film or the hidden meanings behind the visuals he used. Not even a behind the scenes featurette on how the children dealt with such dark material. So even though this is a good movie, I can only recommend I’m Not Scared for rental if you know you can’t see it on cable or your local art house, if you have one.

Buy Stuff
  1. Click here to buy I’m Not Scared, the book from Amazon.
  2. Click here to buy more movies by Gabriele Salvatores from Amazon.