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Wednesday, February 04, 2009
PIFF film # 3 - Gomorrah
Just when I thought that everything that ever needed to be said about the mafia had been said along comes Gomorrah, an Italian film based on real-life incidents that exposes a new level of nastiness festering in Naples. Filmed documentary-style, it falls somewhere between The Sopranos and City of God presenting an unblinking overview of the city's crime world and the life cycles of its participants. Teenagers are recruited and forced into an ugly initiation ritual involving bulletproof vests while their older counterparts are massacred in tanning salons.
It's a bleak ride but not without its moments of grim humor. In one subplot, a pair of clueless, Scarface-obsessed newbies make the mistake of striking it out on the own against a local don after uncovering a cache of machine guns. The film's biggest flaw is that it tries to cover a huge amount of material while juggling a multi-generational cast of characters all diving into or trying to escape their lifetime gigs. The best of Gomorrah's various stories: one unwitting goon's struggles to come to terms with his boss' unwavering vileness and what could be the most repugnant mafia job in the history of film. Tony Soprano and Michael Corleone may as well be Mercy Corps volunteers in comparison to this guy's employer, the impossibly corrupt Don Franco.