Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Toni Servillo, Carmine Paternoster, Salvatore Cantalupo, Marco Macor,
Ciro Petrone, Salvatore Abruzzese and Gianfelice Imparato

Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: December 19, 2008 Released by: IFC Films

This gritty, honest crime drama (in Italian with English subtitles) percolates with a haunting naturalism into a changing complex world, especially in Naples.

Gomorrah (Gomorra), as its title indicates, weaves strikingly from the Comorra family, as director and co-writer Matteo Garrone presents it in a bleak, grim fashion without the usual underworld trappings. It may be a little deceptive for some after the brutal opening with top brass convocating in a tanning salon.

The branched narrative works from the shifting patterns to the establishment. Toni Servillo's Franco is in the toxic waste business who retains an aide (Carmine Paternoster) who is jolted by the nature of the corporate mentality. An established tailor, Pasquale (Salvatore Cantalupo) is bold in his sweat shop dealings with Chinese rivals. Marco Macor and Ciro Petrone are influenced by "Scarface" bravado as they come upon some armaments. Young teen Toto (Salvatore Abruzzese) is reluctant as someone with the opportunity to get his footing into the system, and mousy veteran money man Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato) helps provide for clans of those in prison.

It may be unclear what the cause behind the volatility that often is kept in the background, though the working class element connected to the aforementioned characters out of many brews with energy of all kinds. The actors are uniformly solid across the board with nice contrast between the timid Imparato and an edgy Paternoster, who, along with the blustery Macor and Petrone, have a pronounced effect on the conclusion with horrifying results.

Garrone derives much authenticity from the antecedent, of which the author has necessitated involvement in a witness protection program. If the screenplay feels as if its drifting between a wide range of characters and situations for a while, then the director more than makes up with an authentically strong sense of time and place. He works assuredly with his lenser in a crisp, yet rich visual depth that accentuates the wryness and ferocity in and around a working-class neighborhood in development.

Gomorrah keeps the onlooker sharply attuned to many people who are connected through their loyalty and sense of community. Just when it seems to be too chilling, there's enough warmth, but not for very long. The concentrically-stranded picture often defies one's expectations as their is much resonance in the structural dynamics quite influenced by ethical etiquette and increased scrutiny coming from a rapidly less private world.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Gomorrah        A-                  A- 

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