Io non ho paura
written by Niccolò Ammaniti, Niccolò Ammaniti, Francesca Marciano
directed by Gabriele Salvatores
by Walter Chaw An Italian version of Charles Laughton's Night of the Hunter in many respects, Gabriele Salvatores' I'm Not Scared (Io Non Ho Paura) is admirable in its ability to evoke the dreamy disconnection of childhood--the startling realization at some point along the way that your parents may not be merely flawed, but occasionally malicious. A young boy, Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano), finds a child imprisoned in a hole next to an abandoned house in the middle of an impossibly beautiful fall Tuscan landscape, all yellow wheat and verdant hillock. Shots of wildlife--owls and toads, snakes and chickens--evoke Laughton's film, while ants crawling on eyes and animals killed by automobiles suggest the intrusions of the things of man into the things of the wilderness. A quiet picture, I'm Not Scared is ultimately hopeful as well, finding in its young protagonist the innocence of childhood and the boundless courage it requires to become a man in a savage universe. Lovely to behold and almost as lovely to reflect upon, the picture is inevitably corrupted by a weak conspiracy narrative--pointedly, the only portions of the film that don't centre on the child or the will and ordeal of maturation. Originally published: October 14, 2003.