Gomorrah (‘Gomorra’)

CRIME DRAMA; 2hr 17min (Italian with subtitles)

STARRING: Toni Servillo, Gianfelice Imparat

Hot shots: from left, Macor and Petrone

The underlying motif of the five linked stories in this dissection of the Camorra, the Mafia-style Naples and Caserta-based criminal network, is money: getting it, holding onto it and relishing its malignant power. Set largely in the decaying honeycomb of an apartment complex, writer-director Matteo Garrone’s diffuse treatment of Roberto Saviano’s 2006 book of investigative journalism charts the grass-roots fortunes of men on the make and take.


Don Ciro (Imparato) makes payments to the families of clan prisoners. Toto (Salvatore Abruzzese) is a hardened child. Pasquale (Salvatore Cantalupo) is a tailor of dangerous ambition. Marco and Ciro (Marco Macor and Ciro Perone) are gun-crazed naïfs. Roberto (Carmine Paternoster) struggles to deal with the reality of Franco’s (Servillo) toxic-waste disposal business. Each of them lives by the pitiless imperatives of secrecy, greed, bloodlust and betrayal.

Hand-held, desaturated and packed with tight-lipped performances, Garrone’s stripped-down approach is less about individuals than the stench of trench warfare, in which every action has destructive consequences. Gomorrah hammers its point home with blunt-instrument force: in a battle that no one can win, killing is its own rationale.