Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Films on TV: Gomorrah

For those who are in the mood for a gritty, brutal and uncompromising exposé about the Neapolitan mafia on a Tuesday night (and why wouldn’t you be?) then you’re in luck with Gomorrah on BBC Two at 12.20am in the early hours of Wednesday morning. If you’re simply in the mood for a good film, then you’re in luck as well.

Gangster films are often gritty and intense, but if one looks at the great works of the genre it becomes apparent that there is something unreal about them whilst they deal with great themes. "The Godfather" is filmed in a wonderful style, through grey-brown filters and "Goodfellas" is a similarly a delivery of heightened reality. Neither of them have the realism and intensity of "Gomorrah", a film which deals with the brutal and violent Camorra of Italy. This was the story which was so powerful that the writer of the book, Roberto Saviano, has been under police protection ever since its publication.

Shot with hand-held cameras in raw and kinetic fashion, it deals with the gangland violence and shady dealings which have turned Naples into a city of crime and squalor. The film follows several story lines which explore the extent of destruction and corruption which filter into the lives of Neapolitans.
There is an innocent boy, drawn to the gang life from his monotonous existence. There is a tailor whose passion for design is governed by the mob. Two youths, drunk on Hollywood gangsters, seek to rule the town for themselves. A young man's first job is serving a mob boss. An old man's days are spent fearing for his life as he pays the relatives of Camorra men in prison.

It is a thick tapestry, and it is not an easy watch.  The film's title suggests much of the film's tone. Director Matteo Garrone paints the city of Naples as doomed and Godless. However, the focus on the individuals draws out so much more. Most of the film is about the loss of innocence and the destruction of integrity, but there is so much emotion running through the film that it is almost impossible not to get drawn into the raw feelings of the characters. It is a thoroughly engaging experience.

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