Thursday, March 31, 2005

I'm Not Scared

2003, Italy, directed by Gabriele Salvatores (original title: Io Non Ho Paura)

I can't help thinking that many of the reviewers of this film felt that they should like it and therefore gave it more raves than it really deserved. After all, it's impeccably crafted, from the almost impossibly gorgeous imagery of a southern Italian summer to the strong acting, from both adults and children. It's got a sterling premise - a ten-year-old boy finds a boy of a similar age imprisoned in a hole near his home - and there's much to think about in the depiction of a certain element of Italian society in the 1970's (while the treatment of the imprisoned boy is not soft-pedalled, the script smartly avoids easy condemnations of his captors). With all that in mind, the film should grip from first frame to last, but in truth things are so wilfully stop-start that the script constantly punctures whatever tension it creates - and there's no shortage in the first 45 minutes. The director never quite makes up his mind between genre thriller, coming-of-age tale, and leisurely depiction of Italian village life, and that, more than anything, kills the pacing, as Salvatores attempts to fulfil the requirements of each option. It's a shame: with better pacing this might have been a minor classic.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States