Wednesday, 1 October 2008


Teenager gangsters involved in drugs, murder and arms dealing. Shocking. Or perhaps not so much anymore? A lot of films deal with this subject for two reasons, firstly these terrible things happen and secondly it’s entertaining. This film directed by Matteo Garrone is based on the book by investigative reporter Roberto Saviano, who experienced the subject mater of the Camorra in Naples which he describes as a “European problem” a Southern Italian organised crime ring, that is connected to countless criminal gangs who kill thousands of people, as many as three a day. The Camorra use their illegally acquired funds to invest in legal activity including the construction of the twin towers.

The cinematography is poetic, skilfully capturing the atmosphere of the diverse Naples environment ranging from abandoned buildings and farms to decaying flats in poverty stricken neighbourhoods. There are several central characters with whom the audience are encouraged to identify including a very young boy employed as a mule by the mob, an ageing mule whose life is in constant danger, a tailor recruited by the mob since childhood and most compelling of all a pair of resourceful teenage hoods, who inspired by Scarface and the arrogance of youth, believe they can take on the mob on their own terms. The various plotlines are taken from 5 separate stories in Saviano’s book, and are skilfully balanced in the format of this film.

Gommora is by no means a revolutionary film, and although it is revealing for those curious about the criminal underworld of Southern Italy, the actual subject matter has been dealt with so frequently in cinema everywhere from Britain with Kidulthood to Brazil with City of God and can be a bit tiresome after awhile. Despite the ‘seen-it-all-before’ aspect I enjoyed the film, the acting is convincing, the mise-en-scene a pleasure to behold, Garrone is clearly a skilful auteur as well as having an eye for the beauty of symmetry. The accuracy of the subject matter has been addressed carefully, and sympathetically. The effect is convincing and entertaining. It has already won the Grand Prize of the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and when it is released in Britain on 10th October, is likely to attract more attention.

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