Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
a film that mixes things up too much
on 16 October 2016
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.