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4.5 out of 5 stars
43
4.5 out of 5 stars
I'm Not Scared [DVD]
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on 14 September 2017
Eccellente!
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on 31 December 2004
An introverted village boy discovers another boy imprisoned in a hole in the ground, and goes on to find out why he is kept there...
The whodunit element of the storyline, adapted from the novel by Niccolò Ammaniti, provides the film with a backbone, but I think it is not its main attraction. Although the front of the dvd box screams at us: Secrets! Betrayal! Murder! and the summary on the back promises us a 'suspense thriller' about an 'unspeakable crime', this is no fare for those who insist on gore and adrenaline. Most of the unpleasantness is verbal or happens between the scenes we are shown. But this story doesn't need big shocks to keep you (or at least me) watching.
To me this is a beautiful, contemplative film about how normal people may behave in the face of a crime they can't choose to overlook. You can't really tell what the characters will say or decide next, how they will react to the other characters' actions. You care for the people and you want them to make the 'right' choices - but you don't always know which option is morally preferable.
The child actors are absolutely brilliant... they are never too cutesy, and in fact you can never catch them acting. Both the children and the established adult actors are completely natural and convincing 'real people'. The dialogues are very well written, but the actors seem to be even better when they have no lines. Melodramatic outbursts are carefully avoided, as are easy conclusions about who's bad and who's good.
All this is set in a countryside that looks endless but is claustrophobic at the same time, and backed by a soundtrack that knows its place. In short: a pleasure to watch. In spite of the subject matter it won't depress you.
I have no complaints about sound and image quality, but I was a bit disappointed that the extras found on the Italian edition (making-of, director's commentary, gallery, trailer) are entirely absent from this version.
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VINE VOICEon 4 September 2009
This Italian film rises above the conventional thriller on many levels. Foremost, its stunning cinematography thrusts the viewer into the midst of the desolate sun-scorched grain fields (farmed by absentee landlords) and the grinding poverty of the Mezzogiorno--the deep South of Italy (The film was shot in the province of Potenza). The eye of the camera not only sweeps over the immense golden landscape, sharply contrasted by vivid blue skies and gathering clouds on the horizon, but it also focuses on the minute components of that landscape: the blood-red poppies scattered among the wheat; shiny black ants scurrying over a rotted piece of wood; a cicada clinging to a spike of wheat. The insistent shrilling of the cicadas, in fact, becomes a pulse that contributes to the heightening suspense of this harrowing tale, which is told from the point of view of Michele, a ten-year old boy.

A kind-hearted innocent with a child's sense of the possibilities of magic and an innate sense of justice and the right thing to do, Michele is confronted by frightening realities that no ten-year old should ever have to experience--realities that force him to grow up during the course of the film. The director has cast a series of non-actor children who are totally natural and therefore believable in their roles. The harsh environment has left its imprint on each of them: the cocky young bully who leads the pack; the chubby girl who becomes the perpetual victim of their childish games; Michele, who reluctantly conforms to the unspoken rules of the game; Michele's little sister, whom he protects; and his best friend who ultimately betrays him, because of the ethic of loyalty to family at all times, no matter how horrific the circumstances. Each of these children with their "follow the leader"- "statue-maker" games, represents in miniature a forecast of a bleak future in an unrelenting environment.

And then Michele's life is changed irrevocably by an apparition of a boy. As mutual terror grows to empathy, understanding, and finally a dreadful recognition, the story assumes a magical beauty that transforms a film, which, in less capable hands might have come across merely as an exciting melodrama, into almost allegorical significance. The film is crafted so well that the viewer experiences intense emotions that are not forced by directorial manipulation, but emerge naturally from the tightening of the strings of suspense as the tragedy moves to what appears to be its inevitable conclusion.

The splendid musical score acts as a complement to the narrative and never overwhelms it. My only quibble is the translation of English title, "I'm not scared!", which perhaps misleads the prospective buyer and trivializes what emerges as a powerful story. "Io non ho paura!"--"I am not afraid!"-- scrawled on the wall of a dark cave under a dilapidated stone farmhouse in Calabria--are words of a child's defiance of fear; a whistling in the dark, as it were. The defiance seems to have been lost in the translation. But my objection ought to be seen for what it is--a picky quibble that should not deter anyone from purchasing this DVD. The film will not disappoint.
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on 5 September 2005
As with other reviewers, the box blurb was totally off-key. What I found was a beautifully photographed, thought provoking and deeply moving picture. There is little here for those who want the slam-bang of a Hollywood kidnap thriller. To me the kidnap was a secondary element to the themes of enlightenment and awakening. The way the director uses light, and the absence of light to illustrate the mental darkness in which Michele is held by his childish longing for his father's attention but how as he becomes aware of his father's role in the kidnapping and passive acceptance of the abusive nature of his co-conspirators, his illusions of his father as an heroic figure become shattered to the extent that he starts to loathe his father's selfishness in putting the family at physical, emotional and certainly moral risk. That his mother commences the same journey of enlightenment as she begins to sense Michele's awakening only adds to the depth of the story. Excellent character development and sublimely acted, particularly by the child lead.
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on 6 July 2008
Quality Drama with a side order of Sicilian Countryside., 5 Jul 2008

Plot:

Thriller dealing with the loss of innocence set in southern Italy. A ten-year-old boy discovers a young child chained up and starving in an abandoned farmyard. He befriends the boy and slowly discovers that he has uncovered a conspiracy that reaches into his own family

My Review:

Written by Niccolò Ammaniti, whose novel is so sublime and subtle in its creative use to describe sound, colour and imagery, comes the onscreen version of one of his appraised novels based on a 1970's kid growing up in Sicily.

Director Gabriele Salvatores accrues together scriptwriter Niccol Ammaniti's simple words and tries to apprehend the panoramic imagery that encompasses the film in its finest and darkest hours. Sheer volume of words could not describe how the imagery grasps the viewers eyes, although as if you are standing upon a Sicilian cornfield, where you can almost feel the dry heat and smell the odorous of faint and distinctive Sicilian cuisine. The very imagery makes in an envious place to live, as if on some level that the pleasures of the idyllic rural existence is the very essence of a carefree life.

The story is of course a bucolic drama is set in 1978; the Basilicata region of Italy, you think with the title it suggests to be about growing up in the rustic keeps of Sicilian Italy. However, the sheer forceful blow comes from the fact that film is like the idyllic place that has more than meets the eye, of course it does with a title as suggestive as it sounds. It seems like a picture-perfect indigenous location that bears the likes of a tourist's idea of a traditional Italian holiday.

The real star is 9-10 year old Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano), the rurally kept pre-adolescent protagonist following his discovery of a feral blind boy Filippo (Mattia Di Pierro), who's chained up in a hole in the ground beside a ruined farm. The pairing of friendship and direction of these two herald by director Gabriele Salvatores shows its true appreciation in the interaction of these two very different children. The range of acting and direction shows the same level of mature child actors in league with other directors, i.e. Guillermo del Toro's work with child star Ivana Baquero in `Pan's Labyrinth' or Alejandro González Iñárritu's direction of children in his trilogy from `Amores Perros', `21 Grams' and recently `Babel'.

One scene that particularly engrosses attention and shows true connection between these younger actors is a scene in which Michele tries to get Filippo to open his eyes and look upon the face of the young lad who has befriended him. The scene shows a glimmer and incandescent spark of light and Filippo's first look at Michele.

Nevertheless, underneath the pristine imagery and wonderful direction lies the superficial rendering of a thriller, less played out conventionally and more a tense coming-of-age light-hearted rigid story. Good stuff.

Verdict:

Unparallel drama and tightly woven plot with a wonderfully sublime script thanks to the novelist. Fancy a trip to Sicily? 8.5/10.
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on 24 February 2011
This is one of the best Italian films I have seen (ever)! Great story set in the south in a god-forsaken little hamlet. The story concerns a kidnapping which the whole village seems to be a party to, so the young boy who discovers the victim has no-one to turn to. it's a story of desperation - desparation of the victim, desperation of the boy who discovers him but also desperation of the kidnappers who get themselves into a situation that they can't find a way out of. Well acted and set in a fantastic landscape it gets a 10/10 from me.
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on 25 August 2005
I would highly recommend this beautifully scripted and photographed film. I expected to see quite a creepy film about kidnap and murder (as it says on the cover of the DVD), however it failed to mention much about the talented young italian actors playing free, adventurous friends and the fabulous cinematography across the wild, rural landscape of Italy. I saw this film at a local Film Society and it has been by far the most moving and beautiful foreign film I have seen.
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on 30 June 2005
I fully endorse what the previous reviewer has said. Don't believe the way the film is hyped on the box. It is actually a much more subtle and beautiful film than the crass blurb would suggest. Personally I would have done the end of the film slightly differently but that is only a minor criticism of a film which is first class and well worth watching.
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on 3 July 2008
Children are running. The day is bright, the field where they scamper is golden. Accompanied by a speedy violin track, the camera barely keeps up as the kids hurtle forward, their bare legs dark amid the sunburned cast of the grasses. Maria (Giulia Matturo), younger and smaller than her fellows, stumbles, and her older brother, nine-year-old Michele (Guiseppe Cristiano) goes back to fetch her. This means that he loses the race -- for it is a race, not a flight from danger -- and so must pay up, that is, he must perform a feat of daring, named by the contest winner. Soon afterwards Michele the child discovers a small boy hidden/imprisoned in a cavernous hole near an abandoned farmhouse and acts with courage and compassion to "do the right thing".

Thats just the beginning of this beautiful Italian film. I have watched it several times over the years, and i will never tire of the hypnotic power some European movie have. Just like 'Respiro' and 'Sex and Lucia', this movie casts a spell and the result is 2 hours of magical entertainment.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 16 October 2016
Contains spoilers

This film is somewhat overrated, I think, as was the not dissimilar Respiro. Maybe it works better if you like thrillers, but I found it hard to accept the basic premise: a 10-year-old boy from a wealthy family has been kidnapped by a group of impoverished rural men and hidden in a hole in the ground, half-starved and in the dark, and the son of one of these men finds the boy and befriends him, while trying to piece together what is going on by listening through half-open doorways. As may be surmised from this, the act of the kidnapping and appalling cruelty inflicted on the captive unbalance what would otherwise be a coming-of-age story about a friendship. It just doesn't work: the son, Michele, is too nice, really, to come from such a background where people are capable of this kind of abhorrent behaviour, and the portrayal of the adults is naive in itself, even allowing for the fact we see them through Michele's eyes. He is like a boy-angel born to amoral monsters. From this basis, it is just a matter of joining up the dots, genre-fashion. leading to a particularly weak ending which doesn't in any way deal with the enormity of what it is really showing. It hides behind sentimentality instead, and the grating string music, which has been minimalist all the way through, turns into Vivaldi. The film is quite well shot, but the only thing raising it above two stars, for me, is the remarkable performance of Giuseppe Cristiano as Michele. He is very good, and if this had been more a children's film with some other dramatic pretext, and less of the boring wheat fields and music, it could have been a much better film, but for a different audience.
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