Gomorra (2008)

22Aug09

200px-Gomorra

The Neapolitan Camorra in Naples, Italy is considered by many to be the most dangerous, powerful gang in the world. This film gives us a crime organization that is decentralized, with a gritty, bare vision in stark contrast to the slick gangster films served on a silver platter. Opening with the shootings of gangsters in a tanning salon, the bright fluorescent tanning bulbs cast a harsh light on the victims, making their murders feel raw and savage, techno music blaring in the background, giving us a jarring introduction to their world and setting the tone for the film.

Five separate story lines are weaved together, the Comorra the driving force behind each one. The characters from each story never interact, serving only as tools to show us how far reaching and dominating the power of the Comorra is, in their community of Naples. We journey with two adolescent boys dreaming of fame as glorious gangsters to the inevitable doom their innocence cannot escape when they enter this world. We see a haute couture tailor looking to make extra income on a separate job but having to completely abandon his talent for a new, brainless skill. We also get an inside view from a timid money distributor working for one gang who inevitably gives himself up to another, his future uncertain.

The film is shot without glamour or pretense, but with a documentary style, the settings on location, the actors part of the backdrop and not a shipment from a Hollywood back lot. A stark film giving us only what we need to see and understand, a subtle undercurrent of bloodshed and broken deals lurking throughout. A startling contrast to the much mythologized gangster movies of past times, from ” Good Fellas”, “The Godfather” and “Public¬† Enemy,” deconstructing these towering achievements, a breath of fresh air.

Unfortunately, that fresh air comes off as stagnant and dry. The plot is sometimes difficult to follow as we’re plunged into the dialogue and action with minimal background, the story unfolding slowly.¬† The pace of the film is also a challenge as he lets some shots linger too long while the dialogue runs too sparse. It’s difficult to be interested when the director, Matteo Garrone, seems to be indifferent to his audience.

Overall, though, this maybe considered a landmark film with its fresh take on the tired gangster genre, embarking on the story of one of the oldest crime organizations in the world, however fragmented and decentralized they maybe. We’re spared the overly dramatic and flash, given instead smashed cliches in which new possibilities maybe born. Someone will come along and improve on this new ground, capitalizing on this film’s vast potential.

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