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Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Organized crime is not a job; it is a lifestyle. It is also not the glamorized, conformable style that Hollywood has romanticized for years. No… it is a grim, dangerous and unhappy way to live. And most of the time the people involved have no other choice but to follow such lifestyle. Gomorrah is the work of Italian filmmakers trying to show what life in the criminal world is really like. The film is based on fact.

The Cammorra crime syndicate is based in Naples, Italy and has around a $250 billion dollar revenue yearly from all of its enterprises, which include gun trafficking, drug trafficking, toxic dumping, and even high end fashion. But if they have so much money why is it that they do not live a luxurious lifestyle like we saw in the Godfather, Scarface or Goodfellas? Gomorrah answers these questions and many more. But in the end it narrows down to: if you were stealing so much money, why would you even dare keep a high profile? The answer is you wouldn’t; you would probably be hiding your face from the authorities, your rivals and the public as much as you could because if you don’t …well… bang, bang you’re dead. And of course you never end up with the money; it ends up with the higher bosses in Milan or even New York. They can afford the luxurious lifestyle. After all how could anyone ever link these crimes to the men who donated the money to rebuild the World Trade Center?
Director Mateo Garrone does an excellent job. Like the lifestyle of the crime world Gommorah is told with a sullen, dark, and grim style of filmmaking. It does not try to be a documentary, even though the stories it tells are probably real. No, it just wants to tell life as it is with no sugar coating or other digestives in the process. The story is told through five points of view. The first one involves the syndicate’s involvement in the toxic waste disposal. That is a big business that no one wants to do. It is also a very dangerous one. The second story involves a pair of teenagers who think they are tough after finding some guns. They are then hired as hitmen by some of the higher ups. There is also a story about the fashion industry and its involvement in illegal sweatshops, one about cocaine and other drugs and a very touching one involving a dreamy kid who one day wants to grow up so he can be a gangster because gangsters are the cool kids on the block. They are all involved in crime because it is all they have known their whole lives. And the makes us understand that had we grown up the same way they did we would end up in the same place.
The acting is also terrific and probably the movies strong point and because the actors are unknown we can believe that this are their real lives. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a movie that allows me to peek into the lives of other people.
However there is one downside to this story. Because it is so grim, so uninviting and so depressing the film appears flat at times, some times very flat and a bit dull. I guess this is Garrone was going for; the flatness is fitting for the films material. But it is very hard to swallow.
Gomorrah is a great film. I recommend it to anyone who is willing to put some effort into watching a film about reality as it is. It is also a must watch for any cinemaphile who is tired of all the letdown blockbusters this summer.

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