Films: Gomorrah

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Gomorrah

Gomorrah

Italy, 2008, 137 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Family Issues, Foreign, Gangster, Social Issues
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: Italian, Cantonese, French English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Matteo Garrone
Producer: Domenico Procacci
Editor: Marco Spoletini
Screenwriter: Matteo Garrone, Roberto Saviano, Maurizio Braucci
Cinematographer: Marco Onorato
Principal Cast: Toni Servillo, Gianfelice Imparato, Maria Nazionale, Salvatore Cantalupo
US Distributor: IFC Films

Winner of the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Gomorrah is a gritty fictionalized adaptation of reporter Roberto Saviano’s exposé of the Camorra crime family of Naples. Five storylines converge to paint a well-rounded picture of mob life, from the shocking to the mundane; the characters at their centers are not cloaked in the glamour typical of lesser crime sagas, appearing instead as fully realized human beings with understandable ambitions and frustrations.

Among them is an initially eager recruit who, unhappy to find himself responsible for the disposal of toxic waste, begins dumping it on otherwise pristine mob-owned property. And a thirteen-year-old who hears the siren call of the underground and signs on to hustle drugs, using all his youthful exuberance to become a success. A couple of teenaged dimwits, enamored with the violent likes of Scarface, shoot borrowed guns across a lake, convinced by the ensuing rush of power that they can outsmart the entrenched crime syndicate and set up shop on their own. A tailor in charge of creating the Camorras’ high-fashion knockoffs makes a deal with the devil—in the form of rival Chinese sweatshop owners—that hardly pays off. And a money runner who provides support to the families of associates now dead or in jail finds that the old system of loyalty isn’t working anymore, as things heat up in a war among clans.

Partly filmed amid crumbling concrete housing projects, Gomorrah focuses on the attraction to organized crime even for those who never stand to profit from it. But director Matteo Garrone doesn’t allow moral outrage or melodrama to undermine the clear-sightedness of what he has called “a war chronicle.” Instead, he studiously preserves the feel of Saviano’s reportage by taking a quasi-documentary approach, making for cinematic realism so bleak the film stock practically seems black and white.

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Meadowlark Bar

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