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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Toni Servillo
Gianfelice Imparato
Salvatore Cantalupo.
Directors
Screenwriters
Maurizio Braucci
Ugo Chiti
Gianni Di Gregorio
Massimo Gaudioso
Roberto Saviano.
Running Time
137 minutes

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Gomorrah
Forget the Mafia — it’s the Camorra you have to worry about


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Plot
Local gangsters go about their business on a crumbling Naples estate. Among them are a bagman (Imparato), and two young upstarts (Marco Macor, Toni Petroni) looking for easy money.


Review
Gomorrah

Two things the Italians do incredibly well are politics and sentiment. The latter explains the rise of Roberto Benigni and his Oscar-winning Life Is Sweet. The former, however, is usually more subtly tucked away - at least until now, because Gomorrah really goes for the jugular.

Based on the controversial book by Roberto Saviano, Gomorrah avoids the usual pulp gangster tropes and opts instead for a slow, arthouse style that never lets you enjoy this world’s seedy thrills vicariously, holding its camera unobtrusively but objectively, like an undercover agent behind enemy lines.

The beginning is a good indication of what’s to come. A group of young men are in a tanning salon, topping up their already overdone walnut hue. Nothing much is said, but it’s clear these guys are bad news: with cheap jewellery, coarse banter and tattoos, they couldn’t be much else. Within minutes they’re dead, rubbed out by a gun-wielding rival gang, left in the eerie UV glow with the tanning beds still humming. The silence is broken by a loud, thumping but unsettlingly cheesy Europop anthem, the kind exclusively popular in, and linguistically specific to, Naples. The word “ironic” just about covers the effect here.

After this initial onslaught the film breaks off in different directions, but these are roads that will never converge - and there will be no neat bow to tie up these plot threads. Garrone is looking at the various layers within the hidden world of the Camorra, the Mafia-esque mob who run the area, and the closest thing to a linking agent is Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato), the sorry bagman whose job it is to pay the families of Camorra members in jail. Garrone takes a fly-on-the-wall approach as he follows Ciro on his rounds; as soon will become clear, this is a service industry in which most are the (terrified) servants. This is made explicit in the storyline about a tailor (Salvatore Cantalupo) who is recruited by the Camorra to make dresses, but exiled from the fashion world when he is caught working for their Chinese rivals. He escapes with his life, although his passion and whole raison d’être have both been efficiently annihilated. And, as he observes Scarlett Johansson wearing one of his designs on a red carpet, he (as do we) realises just what his paymasters have their teeth into.

Some lighter relief comes from a couple of young punks (Marco Macor, Toni Petroni) who see the Camorra higher-ups as “fat old men” and consider the town theirs for the taking. This vile pair counterbalance the scenes in which a smooth businessman (Toni Servillo) launders Camorra money through toxic waste, showing just how far its ‘respectable’ interests lie. But in its two-hour-plus running time, Gomorrah doesn’t seek to do anything but expose this, so while it will fail spectacularly for those expecting a GoodFellas-style exposé of Neapolitan thug life, it has an under-the-skin quality that makes for an outstanding drama. It’s a film that paints a full, ugly portrait of the Camorra corruptors and their corruption, proving, in the story of a child who rats out his own mother, that you really can throw good money after bad.


Extras

Gomorrah Gomorrah
Released: 09 February 2009

Plenty of substance on offer, with deleted scenes, an hour-long documentary and a lengthy interview with writer Saviano providing much-needed context. However, as with the movie itself, it’s all very vérité — the Five Stories doc eschewing talking heads in favour of rambling on-set reportage. Make sure to look out for the thuggish actor hilariously complaining about being cut out of the execution
scene — now he’s authentic.


Verdict
A sombre, slow, but well-paced study of organised crime in urban Naples that leaves a very grim taste in the mouth.


Reviewed by Damon Wise

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Gomorrah
Empire Star Rating

RE:

Watched this on Blu Ray this evening (excellent transfer btw) - I disagree with the review, not that isn't a good film, it's a fantastic film. I disagree that it leaves a grim taste in your mouth. It's realism/grittiness is spot on, but the 'vile' characters that the reviewer refers to are simply naive and oblivious to the consequences of their actions. It's a sprawling, leisurely paced film that you have to be in the mood to watch but your patience will be rewarded with a tense, superbly ... More

Posted by UTB at 00:51, 03 May 2010 | Report This Post


Dull, slow, confusing and at times absolutly brilliant. Gomorrah is all of these things unfortunatly the incredibly slow pace makes the film thematically dry. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Blue Ryan at 16:10, 25 January 2010 | Report This Post


A riveting, stylish, smart and sexy spectacle. Stunning!

Gomorrah is a cold, and brutally violent and honest film about italian mob that, like one reviewer said, exposes the hidden soul of the gangster movie. The film is about the modern gangster families. And, well, it's so unbelievably hard to watch that results difficult to make a full-on review. This is the Goodfellas for Italian filmmaking. And it's worth the 5 stars. Verdict: A stong movie that will disturb more than one person; is a brutal analysis of death, greed and violence on the italian mo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 21:32, 15 March 2009 | Report This Post


A thoroughly impressive and riveting crime drama, Gomorrah effectively crosses between multiple storylines and is often disturbing, humourous and tragic. Energetic handheld camerawork and editing as well as brilliantly atmospheric music give it great energy. It's Oscar snub was a great injustice. It doesn't quite reach the masterpiece category, but it is an involving and thrilling piece of work. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ace Rothstein at 01:30, 02 March 2009 | Report This Post


A thoroughly impressive and riveting crime drama, Gomorrah effectively crosses between multiple storylines and is often disturbing, humourous and tragic. Energetic handheld camerawork and editing as well as brilliantly atmospheric music give it great energy. It's Oscar snub was a great injustice. It doesn't quite reach the masterpiece category, but it is an involving and thrilling piece of work. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ace Rothstein at 01:30, 02 March 2009 | Report This Post


This aint no 'City of God' ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shawshank prisoner at 18:08, 12 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Gomorrah

Not as fun or cool as, say, City of God. But very impressive none the less. 3 stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shawshank prisoner at 10:49, 25 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Gomorrah

Technically impressive but thematically dry. Weak characterisation (or too many characters to really flesh out the best) and a complex plot that skims over key scenes and motivations means this film left me flat. Yes, it is a 'good' film...but did I enjoy it? Resoundingly no. The cinematography (which was beautiful) probably bumps it up to 3 stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rupert303 at 09:02, 25 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Gomorrah

A decent film that’s more like an anthology of newspaper clippings run together in a real-time setting.  Its relative lack of emphasis on connectivity between story lines is at once to its credit adding a greater sense of verite. But in its fractiousness Gomorra also sacrifices a palpable sense of cause and effect.  The description of a crime syndicate with eclectic interests in drugs, industrial waste and haute couteur makes for a multi-faceted organisation though not quite the homog... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by demoncleaner at 09:43, 21 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: A success

I saw this yesterday. A raw and unflinching film about the crime phenomenon of the Camorra, and the violence is as unsettling as the number of operations they have had their hands in. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by KnightofZyryab at 18:11, 11 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: A success

Well that was nice and depressing for a Friday night wasn't it? Basically this is a movie I never want to see again and not for the reasons that statement automatically makes you think. Visually, it was stunning and the use of sound was amazing. There was zero build-up to any of the murder scenes yet you always knew they were coming and the use of the gun sounds was quite extraodinary, it almost seemed to leap out of the screen. The film itself was slightly dis-jointed although it cou... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Goodfella at 10:26, 11 October 2008 | Report This Post


A mess

I was looking forward to this after reading all the 4 - 5 star reviews in film mags and press . But it is a very disjointed mess, dull and hard to follow. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 23:32, 10 October 2008 | Report This Post


Disappointing

Too disjointed and dull to be worthy of 4 stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by CHUFFSTER at 17:00, 10 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Gomorra

I saw this last night. Very impressive stuff. It feels more like a documentary than dramatisation in many parts. It's almost overwhelming to think of how easily the various young people get caught up in the criminal activity. From the young kid Toto to the bravado-filled older teenagers, there are clearly little other viable options available to them. The film does a good job of showing the varied range of players involved in all levels of Naples criminal life, from the somewhat innocent, to th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Acho at 01:53, 08 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Roberto Benigni's Oscar winning Life Is Sweet?

this Friday afternoon..it's actually showing in Cardiff! ... More

Posted by impqueen at 19:01, 07 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Roberto Benigni's Oscar winning Life Is Sweet?

going to see it sunday :D Total Film gave it ***** and LWLies gave it a real good write up, so it looks like everyone reckons this is gunna b good, and i cant wait to confirm that. ... More

Posted by richCie at 15:03, 06 October 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Roberto Benigni's Oscar winning Life Is Sweet?

Hope I get to see this. Doubful though..... ... More

Posted by CORLEONE at 13:22, 06 October 2008 | Report This Post


Roberto Benigni's Oscar winning Life Is Sweet?

Typo alert! C'mon guys! Bad form. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dohertylives at 12:35, 06 October 2008 | Report This Post


huh?

I'm almost certain I saw the poster for this and it had a 5 star review from Empire on it. What's the deal? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by boriordan at 11:53, 06 October 2008 | Report This Post


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