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Movie Review: "I'm Not Scared"

No, this isn't what Kerry Wood said about tonight's start against the Cardinals in St. Louis.

And this has nothing to do with it either, but my dad, who was supposed to go to Sicily on vacation, had to return to the US through London today due to aftereffects from a nationwide strike by Alitalia workers in Italy yesterday.

That notwithstanding, with the off-day Thursday, I decided to take in this film, an Italian film for which I'd seen the trailer seemingly about two dozen times in the last few months.

It turned out to be nothing like what I had expected.

Michele is a 10-year-old boy living in southern Italy in 1978, in what seems to be little more than a dusty crossing of a couple of roads. His family is clearly pretty poor, and he spends his summer days with his sister (who nearly steals the show several times) and friends, exploring the wheat fields nearby.

I'm not revealing too many critical plot points when I tell you this: at one point, alone after his friends go back home, he discovers a pit in the ground in which is a small boy his own age, apparently being held captive.

What Michele learns about him, and about his own father and family afterwards, are the things that I cannot reveal, and so will not. There are times when this ten-year-old seems to have the wisdom of the ages, and other times, such as one where he reveals this secret in exchange for what you might think is something so small and not valuable, that he seems like a child again.

The characters are well-drawn and especially the father and various other relatives and friends, that despite the fact that the movie is mostly about Michele and his friends, you feel you know and understand their motivations well.

Near the end of the film something happens that is so shocking that it rocks the world of nearly everyone in it. This is why I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying, because it leaves so many unanswered questions, and since the film makes a point of saying it's 1978, why didn't it, as so many films of its type, let you know what happened to the characters in the present day.

The director, Gabriele Salvatores, also directed the 1991 film Mediterraneo, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, about a group of World War II soldiers who find themselves in an unexpected world when they find that an uninhabited island which they are expected to hold, isn't, and the story of the people they find there is truly delightful.

"I'm Not Scared" is a little darker, but also has some valuable lessons about human nature. Well worth your time, despite the not-great ending.

AYRating: *** 1/2