I'M NOT SCARED directed by Gabriele Salvatores, written by Niccolò Ammaniti and Francesca Marciano from the book by Ammaniti, produced by Marco Chimenz, Giovanni Stabilini, Maurizio Totti and Riccardo Tozzi, with Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Dino Abbrescia and Giorgio Careccia. A Colorado Film and Medusa production. A Miramax release. Opens Friday (April 23). For review, venues and times, see First-Run Movies, this page. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
I'm not scared calls itself a thriller, but there's way more to it. Since part of the "more to it" lies in its teasingly elliptical structure, I don't want to spoil the string of jolting revelations that make up the film's first third.
Let's just say the story is told from a child's point of view, and the experience of watching it is so immersively evocative of childhood that it's a little eerie.
That's not an accident. Director Gabriele Salvatores's reproduction of the world of childhood is deliberate and systematic.
"We consistently set the camera to a height of 1.3 metres, which is eye-level for a child," says Salvatores. "Everyone has experienced seeing the world from that height. Everyone has that perspective in their memory." He's speaking in mellifluous Italian through an interpreter in a room at the Four Seasons at the height of the Toronto International Film Festival season.
The pale sun glitters on his wire-rimmed glasses. His mild brown eyes crinkle at the corners as he leans forward in his chair.
"Then I read that children tend to use primary colours, so we shot in a palette of bright reds, yellows and blues. And they don't focus their eyes on only one thing at any given time - they focus on everything at once - so I used that kind of lens."
Salvatores looks at me to see if I've got it. He goes on to say that he was attracted to the best-seller the film is based on because of its point of view. He wanted to make a film about the loss of innocence, and one of the engines that drives the film's suspense is the fact that we can only understand as much as the 10-year-old protagonist does. Throughout the film, the boy tells himself fantastical stories to explain the baffling events that go on around him. It ups the tension, but it also rings psychologically true.
Salvatores agrees. "I've been told by child psychologists that children live what happens to them as if it were a story in which they were the main characters, and they feel the need to control the story around them."
Google him and read about his 1991 foreign-film Oscar-winner, Mediteraneo, and see references to his support of several anti-globalization organizations. One Italian scandal sheet calls him a Marxist (that's what "marxisto"means in Italian, right?). So? He's political. Is his film?
"Disobedience is sometimes necessary. Sometimes it's necessary in order to grow up, to say no to the parents, to say no to your superiors.
"The process of maturing can be painful, tiring and also scary. Curiosity is essential in this story. It is important for us never to stop being curious, and never to stop analyzing and questioning what seems to be true, what they tell us to be true. They say curiosity comes from a hormone that we lose when we're 12 years old."