Though little more than a Famous Five adventure writ large, Gabriele Salvatores' mix of thriller and rites-of-passage drama still packs a wallop thanks to beautiful photography and fine performances.
Set over one long, hot summer in rural Italy, it tells of 10-year-old Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano) and his shocking discovery of another boy who's being kept in a hole near a deserted farmhouse. What the kid is doing there is a mystery, but as the children become friends, his predicament forces Michele to reappraise both his parents and his own idealised view of the world.
Like last year's Respiro, I'm Not Scared evokes a sun-drenched, dusty vision of Mediterranean life with vivid clarity, while Salvatores' handling of his non-professional actors is exemplary. But there's more to this movie than photography and performances, with a nail-biting climax sealing a return to form of the award-winning Neapolitan director.