on 22 February 2011
Having lived in the Naples area for several years, I was very interested to see this film. I read the book a while ago and found it to be fascinating, so wanted to see if the film lived up to this. I don't usually like gangster films at all, so I wasn't sure what I would make of it.
I have to say that I loved it. It wasn't an "enjoyable" film to watch, but I found it so realistic and true to life. The situation really is like that in parts of Naples (other parts are lovely). I liked the fact that it didn't attempt to glamorise life in the Camorra or create a far-fetched plot. It almost felt more like a documentary or reality TV.
I don't think this is a film that is going to appeal to everyone, as it is probably hard to follow if you don't already have a good knowledge of the area and its problems. However, for those who already have an interest in Naples and the Camorra it is a must!
The acting is excellent and I really sympathised with some of the characters, such as Roberto.
Having read some of the other reviews, I should add that I speak fluent Italian and understand Neapolitan pretty well, so I think that helped. The subtitles weren't great, but fortunately I was able to overlook them.
This visceral depiction of inner city life has received heaps of praise and rightly so - but on BLU RAY - there are two versions.
One plays on UK machines - and the other doesn't.
The desirable US issue on Criterion is REGION-A LOCKED.
So it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK Blu Ray players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't).
Don't confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front - that won't help.
Luckily the REGION B issue does play on UK machines - albeit with the better print.
Check which issue you're ordering before you buy...
on 7 June 2011
DO NOT EXPECT A GOODFELLAS GLAMORISATION OF THE MAFIA.
This film was epic, it's a film/documentary
The actors are not actors but locals and roughly based on a true story
The language they speak is not Italian it's a napolitano, a dialect even I find hard to understand. The subtitles gave you a jist of what they were saying.
Very good film if you follow the plot and understand what's going on. Very cleverly made, this film is for smart people that understand cinema not some spoilt brat looking for action and explosions.
THIS IS THE REAL MAFIA NOT TONY SOPRANO
On the outskirts of Naples, past the beautifully historic buildings and tourist trappings, lie the city's crumbling estates. Here the city is slowing by torn apart by the Camorra.
There are many things which the Italians do well - pasta, football, Catholicism - but most importantly, crime. The Camorra, the Mafia-esque mob at the heart of Gomorrah, isn't like the mob seen in a Martin Scorsese film or the Sopranos - there are no gentlemen's agreements and no second chances. This is primal violence of the highest degree - survival of the fittest.
After its bloody beginnings, Gomorrah veers off in five different directions, examining how this poisonous crime organization seeps into every faucet of society in Naples. We follow Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato), an old hand at the business, who pays off the families of mob members who are currently in jail; simple dress maker (Salvatore Cantalupo), who makes the mistake of crossing the mob and helping out their Chinese rivals; two young upstarts (Marco Macor, Toni Petroni) who think they're the next Tony Montana; 13 year old Toto (Salvatore Abruzzese) who falls in with one of the criminal gangs; and Roberto (Carmine Paternoster), a graduate who becomes disillusioned with this new job of managing illegal toxic waster. The entire cast, some of which are new to the acting world, all give sterling performances, especially so the youngsters.
With a few artistic tweaks to the original story, Gomorrah could have easily been made into a `different lives slowly coming together' film in the same vein of Crash or Magnolia. But the Camorra is different. They've fingers in every pie, and their corruption and influence have seeped their way into every area of life in Naples - young to old, rich to poor, white to black, no-one escapes the clutches of the Camorra.
Gomorrah doesn't end with any big set piece and not all the loose ends are tied up. This only serves to show that these are just five individual stories; a snapshot of a city which finds itself unable to rid itself of the Camorra - they can't live with it and they can't live without it.
As the film draws to a close though, the reality of life with the Camorra comes to bear: they have murdered 4,000 people in the last thirty years (more deaths than caused by the IRA or ETA); one clan's daily earnings from drugs are estimated at 500,000 euros; most of their operations are completely legal, including a share in the reconstruction of Ground Zero in New York; they have members in every social class, from doctors to grocery store owners; and they have a monopoly on toxic waste in Italy. Although it'll leave a grim taste in the mouth, staying for these details simply brings home the fact that the last two hours and 17 minutes have been as close to the real Italian mob as any film as going to get.
A bleak view of a broken city, which is both an entirely compelling, but extremely difficult watch.
on 25 November 2008
This is a hugely powerful movie, and could make for a hard watch for some people. Why I enjoyed it - and why I think it is an important book, turned into an important film - is that it highlights a reality of the Camorra that they probably would rather wasn't made public; in the sense that it is not the glamorous life of Al Pacino in the second half of Scarface; its more akin to throwing someone in the canal in Eastenders after shooting them in the back. Lots of big fat men, eating lots of pasta, playing cards with the TV on in the background, wearing wife-beaters are the main protagonists in this world. Occasionally, trying to exert their authority, they get up from their cards and pasta and go out and sweatily murder some kids who have aspirations of being one of the next bosses - a medium sized fish in a massive pond.
The film paints a picture of the Camorra's flat structure (as opposed to the Mafia's hierarchy) with the factions in a state of constant flux and in-fighting. The overall message you are left with is one of small-timers living in squalid conditions and an overriding sense of futility and fragility.
I can easily understand why the Camorra are so cross about this film and the book, as it is, as a policeman from Naples said on Radio 4, one of the most powerful ways of breaking their control, by showing the image they would like to present themselves as (Goodfellas, Sopranos, etc) is a far cry from the reality. The person I watched this didn't enjoy it so much, probably because of the nihilistic message. Sugar-coated this film is not. The author deserves the full extent of government protection.
Italian crime films are led, in my view, by La Scorta. A hard film about the police escorts of a magistrate in Sicily; full of event and a good storyline with strong characters. I found GOMORRAH to be rather more diffuse. It had the background of life in Scampia and in the associated businesses and their story line. One saw the environment. One saw the violence. What I did not get was the plot and I suspect here that too much was off-screen or in Italian for me to readily grasp which side which actor was on. After a while there seemed to be a lot more thin-faced men with a number 2 razor cut than I could account for. The wiseguy with the voicebox presented an excellent sub-plot. I could have done with more of those.
Since writing the above review I have had the opportunity to read the book upon which it is based. I recommend you read it before watching the film, you will enjoy both.
on 20 April 2013
I imagine this is a very good look at the activities of the Camorra, however – and I realise I’m in a minority here – I’m not sure it works in its current form. It is a thinly fictionalised interpretation of real events. And that’s precisely the problem: the ‘fictionalised’. It’s almost impossible to identify with the characters, because there are just too many of them. As a result, it packs very little emotional punch.
As usual with such films it’s been lauded by the critics, yet most fans of gangster films like Scarface and The Godfather haven’t flocked to see it. The fact is, I think, it’s a well-filmed overview of the sorts of things gangsters everywhere do. Its problem lies in its inability to answer the question of why the viewer wouldn’t get more out of a well-made documentary or a book – like the original, of course.
on 20 February 2012
I think some people approached this film expecting some Hollywood romanticize view of the Mafia, I know I did. True, it has a start that wrong foots you. Almost traditional and quite bloody Mafia film for the first five minutes, but, this gives way very quickly to a more slow paced film with very little violence (though strong occasional violence is there), and this is where it wrong foots you.
As I watched I realized it was not about the Mafia itself, but about a small area of Italy. Specifically what looked like their equivalent to a council flat complex. It unfolded with six people being followed via five threads, not necessarily linked to one another but glued together by the area they lived in, more specifically how the Mafia's influence touches everybody's life, either directly or indirectly in the area.
The five threads:
The 'hot heads', most easy to follow and understand, couple of lads influenced by the romanticize work of Hollywood films such as 'raging bull', wanted to go it alone but were dealing with ruthless people way out of their league, one more against his will than the other.
The 'boy' - this is an example of how young people get (and want to get) into the Mafia life style but also those associated with him paid the price.
The 'mud man' - this one was actual Mafia, in the extras it is told the he was given the task of disposing of waste mud that was toxic, what he in fact did was sell it to a company that recycled it for fertilizer. Hence he was paid twice and hence the statistics before the end credits
The 'Taylor', this was the most vague, but his work had connections with one branch of the Mafia, he was also working for a Chinese company run by the rival Chinese Mafia. Some hints that even the rich and famous of the world could be wearing items that had Mafia influence.
The 'money runner', pretty obvious, working for the Mafia, he was the person who paid out what the Mafia said people should get, hated the job and wanted out, but they wouldn't let him, they controlled his life. Also in the extras, it speaks of how the Mafia set the 'rates of pay' to these people, which causes anger.
Not a film if you want the more romanticized ('theatrical' as someone put it to me) style of Hollywood, but more 'documentary' style has people say.
One thing this film does have is a sense of suppression, paranoia, repression, fear and being trap into a lifestyle it is very difficult to escape through out the entire film.
Well worth buying and watching again. I was told to watch the interview with the writer first as this gives information about the general area and back story to the events (all based on real life events), this definitely does help
The blu ray picture and sound is fine with 'over two hours of extras'
on 2 December 2011
I was debating three or four stars.
This is a stylised, realistic film without too much hand held camera shake. Thank goodness for that. The characters are not that well drawn but brilliantly observed, especially in their interaction.
It is not "The Godfather part 1, 2 and 3" but it's well worth your time on a rainy afternoon.
More like a documentary than a movie but maybe that is not a bad thing considering the content. Perhaps it was the only safe way for the director and producers to make the film without serious repercussions from the Mafia?
on 17 January 2011
I am an avid reader of Mafia style publishing and have read the book this was based on some time ago, long enough not to remember the story line in detail. This movie doesn't quite pull togetehr from a plot perspective. Perhaps sub-titles don't do it justice, as the movie doesn't translate the "honour" or domination of the Gomorrah clan.
On the positive side though it is engaging, keeps you interested and you can identify with most of the main characters.