It starts in a nice tanning salon where some guys are relaxing, having a manicure and listening to some good music. In a nice friendly ambiance, they exchange few words in a friendly way. The music is very good and suddenly BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! I love this about the Italian mafia; they take complete care of aesthetics even in killing people. This is the way Gomorra starts.
Italian film Gomorra released in 2008 and got good reviews from the critic world over. Matteo Garrone directed this film which is based on a book by Roberto Saviano. See, even these two names seem like the names of Italian gangsters. When I take the name Italian gangsters what figure comes to your mind? It must be a handsome man in a black suit and hat holding a Tommy gun. But my friends gone are those days of The Godfather and the Corleone family. This film is based on the gang wars between different clans of the Camorra syndicate, a traditional criminal organization that operates in the southern Italy (I would not go into the details of the geography). After the initial shootout, a feud erupts between the members of the Di Lauro Clan and a group of dissatisfied and angry members of the same clan. They call themselves the Scissionisti. The gangsters here are of all sizes and shapes and don’t wear black suits. They are real people in the business of Drugs. The director has used five stories that are unrelated but are happening in the same locality to show the entire operation of this Drug mafia.
Toto is a kid who delivers household items in the neighborhood and aspires to be a gangster some day. In order to fulfill his dream he also goes through a strange test of courage when he is to get shot after wearing a bulletproof jacket. He passed that test with flying colors. He ends up betraying women Maria, who trusted him and gets her killed.
Don Ciro is a middleman who works for the Di Lauro clan. He is actually a money carrier who distributes money to the families of the Di Lauro clan members who are locked in jail. Ciro fears for his life and defects and shakes hands with the Scissionisti and ends up betraying the people he worked for but somehow manages to save his own life.
Marco and Ciro are no doubt, most interesting characters in this somewhat slow paced film. They are wannabe gangsters who want to become Tony Montana from Scarface and kill Colombians. They want to rule the whole drug business. The interesting thing I noticed that each one like to call himself Tony Montana and none of them ever thought that how can there be two Tony Montanas. They were very good friends that lived together and died together, that too like two mad street dogs.
Pasquale is a tailor who indirectly works for the Camorra. He decides to make some money by training the Chinese garment workers during the nights. Naturally, the gangsters don’t like it and kill his Chinese associates. Pasquale ends up as a truck driver.
The story of Roberto is somewhat different as it doesn’t involve gunshots. He works in waste management where he finally learns that his boss is not a good man and is playing with the lives of thousands for money. He quits his job and ends up walking alone on the highway but he is happy now.
These five stories joined together show the entire working of the drug mafia in the neighborhood of Scampia. Some films are highly localized and have very less universal appeal. This falls in that category. I am not talking about the technique of filmmaking, that is brilliant and has universal appeal. I am talking about the story. It’s highly unlikely that you would be able to connect to these people. If you want to know about the lives of the people living in that region its fine for you and give a sense that you are watching an educational documentary on Discovery Channel. The film is nicely made but lacks drama, the proceedings are captured in a documentary-like a manner. After the opening sequence in the tanning parlor, I expected more bloodshed and gun shots but there is none. The pace of the film will test your patience. The thing is, we are used to watching the Coppola and Scorsese style gangster films so for me it didn’t work. But on one account I will give it one hundred percent marks, it has not glorified the gangsters that most of the directors often do.