Thursday, 22 December 2011

Gomorrah (2008)

At a glance:
It's not every day you watch a movie that turned one author's exposé into an international blockbuster and got him permanent police escort by the Italian government, effectively walkin around with a fat price tag on his head. That's Roberto Saviano, the man who wrote the tell-all 2006 book with the same name, about the Naples-based criminal organisation most know as the Camorra. You can see why these mobsters want him shot - the book sold more than two million copies in Italy alone reportedly and got translated and published in more than 40 countries. That's not somethin you want the world to know if you're an organisation with a worse reputation than those other gun-totin folks in Sicily who got more Hollywood screen time. The frightenin details in Matteo Garrone's unglamourous direction and Maurizio Braucci's unflinchin screen treatment are already evident in an openin scene set in a tannin shop - you never know when they come at you, you just know that they will. This pretty much sets the tone for the documentary-like feature. We follow a few characters around and have a privileged inside look at how the Camorra affects their lives.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Stayin as far away as possible from the lionisation and glorification of gangsters, Gomorra (in Italian) isn't The Godfather (1972) or Scarface (1983) which is ironically referenced in a scene where two young wannabe mobsters mimic Al Pacino in the de Palma classic) but more like an even gritter Eastern Promises (2007) without the stylish dialogue and A-list stars. Gomorrah distinguishes itself by focusin on gang activity instead of gangsters. Highlights include the illegal toxic waste industry (Carmine Paternoster as a young grad who unassumingly works for a ruthless contractor played by Toni Servillo) and the illegal immigrant issue (Salvatore Cantalupo as a skilled tailor who accepts a job trainin Chinese workers). The best developed story is that of Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato) a reluctant go-between who visits families of jailed or dead gangsters to distribute cash. This one exceptionally brings forward themes of desperation but generally all the stories convey the inescapability of normal people from the long arms of the Camorra and their criminal network.
Perennial wonderment:
If my Neapolitan friend Marina will ever quit her pharmaceutical career and enter into an international cocaine-in-mozzarella drug ring with me.
Reminds me of:
Marina's cousin, who told me that they love Chinese people in Napoli because we're easy target for anythin.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Four stars. Gomorrah is Italy's submission to the 2008 Oscars for Best Foreign Language Pic and was a Palme d'Or nominee at Cannes. It's dead serious and ought to be appreciated as such, especially when you know the man who brought this story out into the open is unlikely to ever lead a normal life. A true thinkin man's gangster flick, it will end as suddenly as it started and get you wishin there was more to see, despite already clockin in two hours and 17 minutes.