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Gomorrah

Gomorrah

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer; Interview with Roberto Saviano; Interview with Toni Servillo, Salvatore Cantalupo, Gianfelice Imparato; Deleted Scenes; Gomorrah – 5 Stories: Making Of featurette.

THINK you know everything there is to know about Italian organised crime and the Mafia? Think again. The Comorra of Naples has murdered more than any other terrorist group in the world (4,000 people) and has a business reach that extends globally (all the way to the World Trade Center restoration project).

Matteo Garrone’s complex film, Gomorrah, exposes the ruthlessness of this outfit, as seen through the eyes of five key protagonists.

Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato) is a money-runner who delivers Camorra handouts to family members serving time, while Pasquale (Salvatore Cantalupo) is an expert tailor who decides to offer his advice to rival Chinese competitors. Roberto (Carmine Paternoster) is a recent graduate who finds himself plotting to dump toxic waste illegally and for profit.

At the other end of the scale, Marco and Ciro (Marco Macor and Ciro Petrone) are two trigger-happy teenage independents bidding to go it alone, while Toto (Salvatore Abruzzese) is a 13-year-old delivery boy tempted by the “advantages” of gangster life. All must learn the hard way that you mustn’t bite the hand that feeds.

Based on the acclaimed novel by Roberto Saviano (who must now live in police protection), Gomorrah has been described by many as the “Italian City Of God“ because of the way it exposes the hardship of life in Naples’ violent slums.

It takes some time to get to grips with all the characters, particularly as there are so many to introduce, but it’s well worth riding out the difficult first hour as Garrone’s film is a richly enthralling, if astonishingly brutal, experience.

A palpable sense of dread hangs in the air throughout, while the raw nature of the performances expertly taps into the frustrations and desperations of those forced to live within the vice-like grip of such a cold-blooded organisation.

When the violence comes, it’s quick and heart-stopping in nature and almost everyone has a price to pay.

Gomorrah is even clever enough to leave a lasting impression, hitting viewers with a number of bleak facts ahead of the final credits that underline just how dangerous these Neopolitans can be. It makes for grim but totally addictive viewing, with Garrone emerging as a filmmaking talent to watch.

In Italian, with subtitles

Certificate: 18
Running time: 2hrs 16mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: February 9, 2009