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I'm Not Scared Review

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A nine year-old boy growing up in southern Italy in the late 1970s discovers another young boy, hidden in a hole in the ground by the side of a disused farmhouse. A series of startling revelations involving the boy's family and the local community follow,

★★★★

Set in the Basilicata region of Italy circa 1978, this pastoral drama shares with other popular exports from the country - Cinema Paradiso, Mediterraneo, Il Postino - the pleasures of the idyllic rural existence.

Director Gabriele Salvatores brings together scriptwriter Niccol Ammaniti's simple words (harvested from his own novel) and cinematographer Italo Petriccione's panoramic imagery in such a carefully nuanced manner, you can almost feel the dry heat and smell the odorous Sicilian cuisine. That's not to say, however, that I'm Not Scared is a picture postcard-perfect travelogue that's likely to appeal solely to the vicarious tourist. There's a lot more going on here than meets the eye, which is something that slowly dawns on the film's pre-adolescent protagonist following his discovery of a feral blind boy, who's chained up in a hole in the ground beside a ruined farm.

Indeed, the superficial pleasures of I'm Not Scared give way to a tense coming-of-age story that plays like a taut thriller. Furthermore, this not being Hollywood, Michele and Filippo do not benefit from life lessons learned as exemplified in coming-of-age pap like Now And Then. The sweet life, this ain't.

Si, si. The beautiful photography will have you booking flights to Sicily, while the unsentimental rites-of-passage drama can't fail to touch your heart.