Stephen Applebaum catches up with GABRIELE SALVATORES. the ltalian filmmaker whose new film l'm Not Scared enters some scary territory.

Some industry insiders were puzzled when Gabriele Salvatores decided to film Niccolo Ammaniti’s bestselling novel, I’m Not Scared. Why, they wondered, did the Oscar-winning director of Mediterraneo want to make a children’s film? The answer was simple: the book in which a ten-year-old boy defies a community of adults by rescuing a kidnapped boy of the same age did more than chime precisely with Salvatores’ obsessions - friendship, solidarity and southern Italy. It also fed his desire to find a new way of expressing himself.

‘For some time now,’ reveals the genial filmmaker, who has tried his hand at everything from comedy (Mediterraneo) to science fiction (Nirvana) and weird Cronenbergian romance (Denti), ‘I have been looking for a filter which makes it possible for me to move away from realism and nee-realism, and also to move away from light- hearted comedies, but still talk about reality. To me, the eyes of a child are a wonderful filter.’

Set among golden wheat fields in the sun- drenched region of Basilicata, in the Italian deep-

south, I’m Not Scared is shot in visually ravishing widescreen with a poetic sensibility. But, like in Night of the Hunter, there is something nasty lurking in this case, literally - beneath the surface. Salvatores wants to take us into the shadows, though. It is there, he suggests, that children start to become adults.

‘There is a need to take a look inside holes, to open doors, to not be afraid to look in the dark corners,’ he says. Indeed, it is only when the film’s protagonist lifts the cover off the hole



Unaccustomed roles and unexpected feelings

A reCurrent theme in French director Patrice Leconte‘s films is how a chance enc0unter can

turn peoples' lives upSide-down:

think of Jean Rochefort's retired teacher in L'Homme du Train meeting Johnny Hallyday's bank robber. or Juliette Binoche's governor's Wife befriending Emir Kusturica‘s condemned convict in The Widow of Saint-Pierre. or Daniel Auteil's Circus performer rescwng Vanessa Paradis' Suicidal wait in The Girl on the Bridge.

and quiet.’

In the self-styled sentimental thriller'. an emotionally reticent tax lawyer William (Fabrice Luchini) is mistaken for a psychoanalyst by a distressed woman Anna (Sandrine Bonnaire). She reveals intimate details of her private life. he doesn't own up to his true professional identity. and their regular sessions continue. But how genuine are the stories of this enigmatic stranger?

Much of this dialogue-heavy film unfolds in William's sombrely decorated office: it serves as a cocoon from the outside world. with a collection of toys suggesting a regressive quality to the middle-aged owner. who has lived his whole life in the same apartment.

Michel Duchaussoy provides some welcome comic relief as the real analyst down the corridor, who's never shy of giving his opinions providing he's being paid. 'We both treat the same neuroses.‘ he informs William. “What to declare and what to hire.‘ And Luchini and Bonnaire both give compelling performances in the way they subtly convey the complexities and vulnerabilities of characters forced to deal with unaccustomed roles and unexpected feelings.

(Torn Dawson)

I GFT. Glasgow and Fi/rnhouse. Edinburgh from Fri 18 Jun.

where the kidnapped boy is hidden, and peers inside, that he begins to come of age.

‘From that moment, his life changes,’ says Salvatores. ‘For his own peace and quiet, it might have been better not to look underneath it, but sometimes it is important to give up that peace

Salvatores has often put young people at the centre of his films, and children have a special own life.’ significance for the director. He is intrigued by stories about people who do not have a voice, and Jiii. See rewew. page 26.


Gabriele Salvatores, director of I’m Not Scared

in southern Italy, he says, children are pushed to the margins and forgotten about. Making I’m Not Scared allowed him to put them centre screen. ‘That was one of the greatest gifts in Niccolo’s book for me,’ he says. ‘Because I don’t think John Wayne is the only one who has the right to epic framing; every one of us ought to be able to believe that we are playing the lead role in our

I l'm Not Scared is on selected release from Fri 2


Without even a sniff of scandal. writer'actress Nia Vardalos has fallen from heroine to has-been purely on the strength of her work. transmuting her sleeper hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding into a much reviled US television show. then following up with the Sucker-punch of this woeful pastiche of Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot. After a botched drug deal in a Chicago airport. frustrated entertainers Connie (Vardalosl and Carla (Toni Collette) head for Los Angeles. reinventing themselves as male drag queens to escape mob attention. A blank performance from David Duchovny as romantic interest Jeff gives you some idea of the scale of the collective desperation involved. and a special appearance from Debbie Reynolds in the film's chaotic climax does nothing to dispel the 'anything goes' atmosphere. But as far as this kind of nonsense goes. Connie and Carla Do LA at least offers some capable singing from the leads as they belt out a series of familiar show tunes. And while never even aspiring to the satirical heights of Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion. Vardalos can't be faulted for her desire to create upbeat entertainment. Unfonunately. this eagerness to please quickly becomes cIOying and yOur sympathies soon shift to the halt-wit mobsters. Almore crowd- pleasing ending might have been to have Connie and Carla dropped into the Pacific with concrete overshoes. (Eddie Harrison) I General release from Fri 7 7 Jun.

Some Like it Tepid

10—24 Jun 200-1 THE LIST 25