Movie Suggestion XII – I’m Not Scared
Original title: Io Non Ho Paura
Release year: 2003
Directed by: Gabriele Salvatores
Movie info (Rotten Tomatoes): “It’s 1978 and the hottest summer of the century in Apulia, a village in southern Italy. The few adults that live in this desolate place have retreated inside their houses to escape the murderous heat. The only ones who dare to venture outside are the kids, who ride around on their bicycles in the midst of golden cornfields. When nine-year-old Michele comes across a boy shackled in a hole, he discovers that the entire town may be complicit in an evil ransom scheme”.
Roger Ebert (excerpt) review:
“The film has been directed by Gabriele Salvatores, whose “Mediterraneo” won an Oscar for best foreign film in 1992. The screenplay is by Niccolo Ammaniti and Francesca Marciano, based on Ammaniti’s novel. The plot is essentially a thriller, but the film surrounds those elements with details of everyday life, with ambiguities and mysteries seen through a child’s eyes, and a puzzle about the nature of the agreement between Pino and Sergio. Certainly the family is poor, and at one crucial moment his mother asks Michele to promise, when he grows up, to “get away from here.” The ransom money represents a hope for a new beginning.
Salvatores is not in a hurry to get to the climax. He allows summer days to follow one upon another, as Michele’s secret grows in the boy’s mind. There are details that enrich the portrait, as when he longs for a toy blue truck that belongs to a friend, and strikes a bargain to get it. We are acutely conscious of Filippo, chained in the hole, but for Michele, there are other things to think about, and the urgency of the situation only gradually grows upon him.
The film reminds us that, in childhood, days and weeks seemed to last forever. Summer was not a season but a lifetime. Parents represented a law that stood above our own best thinking, because they had demonstrated time and again that they knew best, that we were only children. The coming-of-age experience, which “I’m Not Scared” incorporates, involves that moment or season when we realize that we can see outside the box of childhood, that it is time to trust our own decisions.
Hollywood movies give us children who are miniature adults, secret agents like Cody Banks and the Spy Kids, who control technology and save the world. “I’m Not Scared” is a reminder of true childhood, of its fears and speculations, of the way a conversation can be overheard but not understood, of the way that the shape of the adult world forms slowly through the mist.”
In my humble opinion, Io Non Ho Paura is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s highly, highly recommended.April 12, 2014