Review by Gerald Levy
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making Of Documentary; Theatrical Trailer; Icon Films Trailer Reel.
ROMANZO Criminale tells the story of a group of young provincial Italian delinquents who graduate from petty crime, through prison, to a kidnapping which makes them rich.
They decide to pool their money and take on the Rome gangs, effectively breaking into the profitable fields of drug wholesaling and prostitution.
In addition, the gang, or some of its members, may or may not, become involved in some of the activities of the Communist terrorist group called The Red Brigade – in particular in the kidnapping and killing of the Italian President, Aldo Moro, in 1978. They were also involved in the terrible explosion at Bologna railway station in 1980 which is alleged to have been organised by neo-Fascists with the help of the State security services and the Masonic lodge P-2.
Obviously, the political activities of the gang will have greater resonances for an Italian audience than for an English one, many of whom will find much of the film bewildering, not least the activities of a mysterious man who becomes Chief of Police, and an even more mysterious one, high up in the apparatus of the State, who appears to be involved in the Cold War. He is generally a political pessimist; and he predicts that the Berlin Wall is about to fall. It is not clear which side, or sides, he is on. Political violence at that time had mysterious origins and operated for mysterious ends, to which the film alludes; but little is clarified.
It’s very difficult to find any of the gang members of the slightest interest, let alone feel sympathy for any of them as they gun each other down. But, as fashion insists, some (unlikely) love interest is written into the script, so that it becomes, for a while, a romanza d’amore, a love story.
And it features a certain amount of ordinary sex, one (unlikely) fully-clothed anal rape, and the brandishing of what appeared to be a metal chain and blade used for sado-masochistic purposes by an attractive prostitute, Patrizia (Anna Mougalialis).
But the main course of the film is shoot-shoot, stab-stab, at frequent intervals, interrupted only by the occasional massacre. Some will find this boring, others, interesting, perhaps even exciting.
Ironically, this aspect is likely to appeal most to those who do not know a great deal about either President Moro or the Red Brigade, nor are accustomed to going to films with subtitles.
Running time: 151 minutes