From a quick glance down the IMDB Top 250 list, it is apparent that ‘gangster’ or ‘crime’ films are heavily represented on the list. From The Godfather Parts one and two, to Goodfellas, City of God and even Pulp Fiction, it is clear that the gangster genre has had a profound impact on the history of film. However, when looking closely at these films, the vast majority of them are over-stylized, glamorous portraits of the gangster lifestyle and it is hard to accept that these accurately portray the reality of a life of crime.
Now I am not for a second suggesting that such films are overrated or not worthy of a place in the Top 250. Many of the films I mention above would feature highly in my personal Top 250 films as they have all of the elements of fantastic filmmaking; great acting, scripting, production design, cinematography etc. What is missing from this collection of films, however, is a sense of gritty realism and that is a deficiency which Gomorrah superbly films.
Based on the bestselling book by Robert Saviano, Gomorrah is a series of inter-woven stories about various aspects of the Camorra crime syndicate, also known as the Neapolitan Mafia. Each of the different strands of the film highlights a different aspect of organized crime in Italy; the highly profitable trade of illegal waste management, the counterfeit goods market, the savage impact of crime on local youths and the brutality dished out in local turf wars.
Heavily influenced by the neorealism movement in post World War II Italy, the film rejects any urges to glamorise organised crime and instead focuses on portraying the harsh realities of the criminal underworld. The film invokes such realistic visuals that the whole cinematic experience of the film is entirely realistic and engrossing from start to finish. The film also features some fine performances from a largely Italian cast, most notably from Toni Servillo who won a European film award for his portrayal of an illegal waste management consultant.
In my opinion, this is a seminal film about crime which provides a fascinating juxtaposition to other, more glamourized, crime films such as Goodfellas and the Godfather. I would urge anyone who has not seen this film to go out and find a copy – you won’t regret it.
Just don’t expect Goodfellas 2…