Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Film review: Gomorrah

Director: Matteo Garrone
Cast: Salvatore Abruzzese, Gianfelice Imparato, Toni Servillo
Country: Italy

Carnage and terror are as pervasive as the claustrophobia and mundane bleakness that consumes life in Gomorrah. Violence doesn’t so much as invade its characters lives as it frames them amidst the totality of corruption and exploitation of the Camorra crime syndicate within a small community in Naples. Rarely has the gang world be so unromantised, so grimy, so deadly.

Director Matteo Garrone’s stunning assault on the senses comes to fiction by way of fact thanks Roberto Saviano’s expose of the Camorra’s workings (said to include some 4,000 murders during a 30 year span) that has seen the journalist-come-novelist who is now under 24-hour protective custody. Garrone weaves five narratives amidst the crumbling, decaying tenement buildings together: one involves a local tailor who crafts designer knockoffs, 13-year-old Totò who cannot escape entanglement, hapless idiots Marco and Ciro who idolise Tony Montana and run amok with inevitable results, money-man Don Ciro who drops payoffs to kept families behind enemy lines, and a corrupt business man literally poisoning the community with his illegal toxic dumping.

There is an uneasy stillness hanging permanently in the atmosphere of Gomorrah that plays like paranoid anxiety in a place where violence erupts without warning. It is not a face but rather the cold indiscrimination of a 9mm projectile that signals betrayal has come to visit or your past has caught up on you. And when the curtain draws unceremoniously on Gomorrah as it does the lives of its protagonists, you cannot escape the touch of its vortex of despair.

This review first appeared in 3D World.


ms_monk said...

a visually & sensually arresting film. nice review scott.