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Io non ho paura (2003)

Im Not Scared, No tengo miedo

Secrets. Betrayal. Murder. Who can you trust when everyone’s a suspect?

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 108 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15


Southern Italy, 1978, and some young carefree scamps are spending their summer holi-bobs cycling around on their bikes, racing through picturesque wheat fields, and challenging girlies to show their lady-bits. They’re happier than pigs in plopsy, the whole lot of them. But, for one member of the gang – nine-year-old Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano) – that’s all about to change.

While exploring an old abandoned house, Michele discovers a trap door. He opens it up, takes a peek inside, and – despite the title of the film – almost soils himself in terror when he sees a soap-dodging urchin squinting back up at him. Who is the kid under the floor? And what is he doing there? Well, it turns out he’s called Filippo (Mattia Di Perro) and, a little bizarrely, he thinks he’s dead.

Eventually, the pair form a strong friendship, and Michele takes to returning every day to feed, water and even play with his pasty-faced new pal. Fair enough, but given the circumstances you’d think Michele might be a bit more pro-active with his discovery: he doesn’t tell anyone (not even his parents), he doesn’t ask Filippo who he is or why he’s there, and it takes him ages to even consider attempting to help him escape. Sure, he’s only a little fellah, and chances are he’s never come across a chained-up cave child before (I know I certainly haven’t) – but it’s also clear that he’s far from stupid, so his inexplicable lack of either action or curiosity leaves the whole thing feeling more than a little far-fetched.

The film works though, not because the plot is anything special (or even particularly credible), but because the acting is excellent, Gabriele Salvatores’ direction is solid, and the gimmick of showing the tale through a child’s eyes adds a level of depth which otherwise wouldn’t exist.

As the plot progresses, it moves from scenic coming-of-age drama to effective thriller, with Filippo’s story becoming clearer and Michele getting caught up in a web of low-budget crime and intrigue. It makes for absorbing viewing, and it’s a film I’d happily watch again – I only wish it didn’t have so many more questions than answers.

It's Got: Michele’s mum being played by Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, best known as that woman from ‘A Walk in the Clouds’.

It Needs: A lead character with a tad more initiative.

DVD Extras Niente. DVD Version reviewed: Im Not Scared DVD Extras Rating: 0/10


Switch off the part of your brain that controls all sense of logic and you’ll find this an intriguing, mysterious and ultimately enjoyable little film.