Nascondino drops us head first into Naples, spanning four years and three generations with intimate access into one of the most fabled and iconic cities in the world.
Living each day as if it were his last, 10-year-old Entoni is a symbol of the city, the ‘scugnizzo’ or street kid; he roams freely around the neighbourhood, playing, hustling, avoiding school and hanging around with the older kids of the local gangs. He also imagines a life for himself far away from the criminality he has grown up exposed to and does all he can to learn a practical trade. But now, his freedom is at risk.
In 2017, Italian judges pioneered a new form of intervention aimed at breaking the bonds between children and parents involved in organised crime through their forced removal by the state. Born into a notorious family, Entoni’s increasingly wayward behaviour leads to an unlikely accident allowing this circling threat to become a reality.
Meanwhile, his grandmother Dora is determined to steer him towards the right track and keep him safe from harm. Although she is the main caregiver for her grandchildren, we learn of her own criminal past and the decisions she has made as head of the family; a past she is now trying to distance herself from as guilt, worry and nightmares start to torment her.
We follow Entoni as he falls victim to circumstance and comes to terms with the reality of his impending removal. He looks to his absent father, imprisoned for crimes the family will not disclose, and imagines his return home. As the day draws ever closer, he balances the duelling forces in his nature. As he turns to religion and the Madonna for support we witness the relationship with his family deteriorate as the pressure of separation reveals its emotional toll.
Alongside this we see how Dora, too, confronts the systems within which she must operate. Haunted by past horrors and visited in nightmares by demonic spirits, she withdraws from daily life and into faith, memory and superstition as she seeks guidance and redemption. She has seen her children and their generation killed or imprisoned, and although they are beyond saving, she feels that for Entoni’s generation it is not too late.
As Entoni makes multiple attempts to escape state care and return home, the film ultimately asks: will he be able to grow beyond the constraints of his upbringing or is he doomed to repeat the cycle?