Gomorrah is a difficult film to review, mainly due to its complexity and its desire to reflect the reality of life in the crime infested poverty of Naples. On the surface it’s an agonisingly long film with no clear-cut storyline, and as such is a movie that many will find too arduous to keep up with. Those that persevere will be faced wit the challenge of deconstructing what they have seen, and it’s here that the movie becomes either a masterpiece or a disaster.
Based on a book by Robert Saviano, Gomorrah is a realistic reflection of life under the rule of the Napoli Mafia. Such was the intensity and honesty of the book; Saviano now has permanent police protection from the various mob families mentioned in his book.
A film however can never do justice to a book, so Director Matteo Garrone has focussed on five interwoven stories that represent a common slice of life. Told in a scattered manor with no care for the normal rules of story telling, trying to keep up with everything that is going on will probably take a number of viewings.
As the neighbourhood slides into all out war we begin to get a taste of the old adage; violence begets violence, as the one striking feature seems to be the never ending – and often very graphic – reality of violence and death as one group takes revenge on the other and such forth.
Probably the most compelling of the five stories, and one of the easiest to follow and understand is that of Marco and Ciro, a couple of wanna be gangsters. They are not part any of the various factions, but rather try and stake out a claim for themselves. They want to be like their heroes, reciting lines from Scarface and worshipping the role of Tony Montana.
Visually the style of the film is as gritty and bleak as the story it is constructing, with a fly on the wall documentary feel, it sucks you in with the feeling of a reality TV show gone horribly wrong. The actors don’t feel like they are acting, and it’s the personalities of their characters that we’re interesting in, which is a refreshing.
All in all, Gomorrah is a rare gem of a film that deserves to be embraced passionately, but consumed slowly, giving it the respect it deserves.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read
Release date: October 15th, 2009
Stars: Salvatore Abruzzese, Simone Sacchettino, Salvatore Ruocco, Vincenzo Fabricino, Vincenzo Altamura, Italo Renda, Gianfelice Imparato, Maria Nazionale, Salvatore Striano, Carlo Del Sorbo, Vincenzo Bombolo, Toni Servillo, Carmine Paternoster, Alfonso Santagata, Massimo Emilio Gobbi, Salvatore Caruso, Italo Celoro, Salvatore Cantalupo
Length (Minutes): 137
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Supported Audio: Dolby Digital Surround 2.0
Director: Garrone, Matteo
DVD Special Features:
• Interview with director Matteo Garrone by David Stratton from ABC1’s At The Movies
• Deleted Scenes
• 5 STORIES: a 60-minute making-of documentary
• Interview with author Roberto Saviano
• Cast interviews
• Theatrical trailer