I, Robot.

Starring Giuseppe Cristano, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Dino Abbrescia. Directed by Gabriele Salvatores.
Running Time: 105 mins.
Rated: Rated MA
Michele (Cristano) lives in a poor farming community in the south of Italy. He and his friends while away the long, hot summer days by playing elaborate gains of truth or dare in the cornfields around their villages. On one of their journeys these friends stumble on an abandoned farmhouse. It spooks them all, but when Michele has to go back to find his sister's glasses he discovers a terrible thing.

Hidden in an old well under a corrugated iron cover is a ten-year old boy, chained and starving. He befriends the terrified child but, later, shockingly discovers who kidnapped him and why.

Director Gabriele Salvatores came to international attention when he won an Oscar for Mediterrano in 1992. He has a keen filmic eye, and, together with cinematographer Italo Petriccione, has again given us a lyrical and visually sumptuous film.

A dark tale of child abuse, extortion and desperation, I'm Not Scared is saved from melancholy or fantasy by the extraordinary performance of the young Giuseppe Cristano.

The major letdown in I'm Not Scared is in the story's construction, where the script writer (and novelist) Niccolo Ammanti, gives us so much information halfway through the film that we can easily predict the tragic resolutions of the story.

Added to this flaw is Salvatores staging of a bigger than Ben Hur final scene which, literally, comes out of nowhere and robs the final act of its potential human power.

I'm Not Scared is a disappointing but beautifully shot and finally acted film.

Fr Richard Leonard is the director of the Australian Catholic film office.