Original title or aka: Gomorra

Director: Roberto Saviano
Starring: Salvatore Abruzzese, Simone Sacchettino, Salvatore Ruocco and Vincenzo Fabricino
Distributor: Independent
Runtime: 92 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Very strong violence and very strong coarse language

This is not the most lucid of films. We admire the sincerity and courage that has gone into the making of it, the craft and the skill in working with many non-professional performers. However, with the decision to take five stories out of the many in Roberto Saviano’s 2006 best-seller (translated into 33 languages) and to intercut them, this structure has made it difficult to follow – plus the complication that many young Neapolitan thugs look much like the other and without a firm establishing of many of the supporting characters, it is difficult to distinguish one from another.

For non-Italian audiences, it might have been more helpful to have the five selected stories shown in their entirety one after the other. The press kit says that they are interconnected. In fact, episode after episode is not interconnected. They are simply juxtaposed. This means that we are following one of the stories and then it is left for twenty minutes or so while we pursue some of the others and so on.

However, the film creates a contemporary Gommorah atmosphere in the northern suburb of Naples, Scampia, which is notorious for its ugly estates, open drug-dealing, murders and control of everything by the Camorra – hence the play on names.

The five stories in themselves illustrate what Saviano (who has been under police protection since the publication) and Garrone wanted to show of the reality of the Camorra today, an often vicious world of blood, death and power. Again, the stories could have been developed more and characters probed. The story of Toto, a 13 year old boy is absorbing. He has to make a life and death decision but his story then ends. The story of a tailor who secretly trains Chinese immigrants is also interesting as is the expose of how the Camorra control the dumping of toxic waste in the south and are employed by many Italian companies. Perhaps the best written and dramatised is that of two young would-be independent thugs who imitate Pacino in Scarface, boldly rob a Columbian drug business, find a Camorra cache of arms and think they are kings of the world.

Sombre and alarming material.

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