Friday, March 13, 2009


Matteo Garrone's "Gomorrah" is a bold, jarring, unusual take on the crimes committed by the Camorra in Naples. It's a Mafia picture wiser than it's cinematic classic counterpart "The Godfather." What I'm saying is that it's much closer to the scenes of the crime. Adapted from a memoir by Robert Saviano, it doesn't pause for breath. Its focused on showing the action, instead of getting caught up in the elastic boundaries of style. All the more, it shows a concrete, synthetic city, inhabited by people exactly the opposite. As I said, its purpose is to observe, not to build a plot. There are pieces of stories, but they are not linearly put together. If they had, it would have seemed a more amateurish effort a la "Crash." Its a documentation of a brutal series of acts, not a feel-good, buddy buddy film poised for Oscar Season. Don't get me wrong, some of those films are good, even great, but "Gomorrah" is not in that category. Hollywood looks to overload films with real "purpose," a gimmick for moneymaking, a need for stars. "Gomorrah" is a testament against a crime group. No government of any sort is mentioned throughout the film. I'm assuming, but I believe Saviano has an incarnation in the film, a man who eventually steps out of the business. There are also two rogue teens, who at one point raid a weapons stash and fire around in their underpants, interested in casual stickups, who get caught up in the web of deceit. There is a boy, also forced into this current, who commits a despicable betrayal of a friend. The violence is sudden and harsh. The film is a realistic portrait of the criminal activity, no holds barred, from an insider, and I can see how audiences can react strongly against it. But I believe this is an important step in trying to dust up a giant. A

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