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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Gomorrah': A Dynamic Exposition of the Criminal Underworld Operating in Naples, Italy

Movie poster for the film Gomorrah about Camorra crime syndicate inm Naples, Italy

"Gomorrah" ("Gomorra") is a superb depiction of the diverse illegal operations perpetrated within the criminal underworld of Naples, Italy, focused in large part on the activities of the Camorra crime syndicate and its subjugate Casalesi Clan.

Premiering originally in 2008, the film opens with the assassination of two mafia figures in the Scampia-Secondigliano district of Naples, triggering a feud between rival clans vying for greater control and increased capacity within the drug trade. The subsequent war becomes the backdrop for five separate stories from within the besieged community, amidst individuals touched by the escalating crisis in one way or another:

Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato) is a humble middleman who delivers funds to family members of imprisoned Di Lauro family chieftains, but is ambushed by members of the opposing “Secessionists”—and forced to decide between his own life and that of his employers.

Marco (Marco Macor) and Ciro (Ciro Petrone) are a pair of raucous teens who are captivated by the mafia lifestyle seen in movies. Petty thefts and disregard of a stern warning from the local boss leads them to an illicit stockpile of automatic weapons, setting off a frenzied rampage warranting dire consequences for both of them.

Pasquale (Salvatore Cantalupo) is a high-end tailor who operates out of a garment factory owned by the Camorra. In a dangerous bid to earn additional wages, he secretly trains Chinese garment workers in his refined craft, creating undue direct competition to his intimidatory overseers.

Roberto (Carmine Paternoster) is a young professional who provides toxic waste disposal services to northern industrialists. He faces a dramatic crisis of conscious, however, when a driver is inadvertently deluged with toxic chemicals, and his workers refuse to participate in their unlawful operation any further.

Totò (Salvatore Abruzzese) is a 13-year old delivery boy who finds a gun and cache of drugs discarded by gang members while running from the police. He returns their goods in the hopes of joining their ranks, and faces a daunting initiation ceremony that tests his fortitude and allegiance.

Directed by Matteo Garrone (“Tale of Tales”, “Dogman”) and based on the book by Roberto Saviano, Gomorrah’s intertwining plot lines each deliver a fragmental glimpse of the larger criminal mosaic operating throughout metropolitan Naples. The cumulative effect is that of a kaleidoscopic real-world perspective on crime in the 21st century, stripped down to reality and devoid of the typical Hollywood myth-making around the mafia. It’s an authentic, expertly filmed and remarkably brutal affair, excelling best as an honest and insightful instrument of social realism. Later developed into a highly regarded television program in Italy—the original film nonetheless stands on its own as one of the finest international films of the 21st century.


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