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While playing outside one day, nine-year-old Michele discovers Filippo, who is chained to the ground at the bottom of a hole. Michele witnesses town baddie Felice nearby and suspects something bad is happening. Michele is unsure whom he should tell about his discovery, eventually spilling the beans to his closest friend. Written by
"I'm Not Scared (Io non ho paura)" has a lot in common with the recent Russian film "The Return (Vozvrashcheniye)."
Both start off with poor pre-teen boys' bullying games that then intersect with their returning fathers' parallel adult realities. The contrasting conclusions reflect different national temperaments and the possible political messages in the films.
A major difference is the look that surrounds the contrasts between childhood innocence and male brutishness (abetted by cowed female complicity), where the Russian film is practically in a frigid black and white, the Italian film has the lush, sentimental cinematography of Italo Petriccione, who also worked with director Gabriele Salvatores on the dreamily beautiful "Mediterraneo."
The suspenseful thriller aspects roped me in, though the tension was undercut a bit by the Lavender Hill Mob antics of the conspirators, but the bumbling added to an uneasy feeling of unpredictability, aided by the suspenseful music by Ezio Bosso and Pepo Scherman.
We literally see the happenings through the eyes of the children, which is helped enormously by the unusually expressive and naturalistic child actors Giuseppe Cristiano and Mattia Di Pierro.
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