Good or bad, this film sure hits hard and hits it good. Directed by Matteo Garrone, it is based upon the novel by Roberto Saviano which deals with organized crime called Camorra (almost like the Mafia) in the Naples and Caserta region of Italy. A radical departure from the time tested conventions of gangster flicks, this movie tries to intertwine five separate stories of Italians whose lives are touched by organized crime (Camorra).
A little background information about the Camorra can come in handy in here since most people outside of Europe or of Italy for that matter, most probably haven't ever heard about it. Now according to the venerable Wikipedia, the Camorra is a mafia-like criminal organisation, originating in the region of Campania and the city of Naples in Italy. It finances itself through drug trafficking, extortion, protection and racketeering and its activities have led to high levels of murder in the areas in which it operates. It is the oldest criminal organisation in Italy. And according to the movie itself, Camorra accounts for the most number of deaths annually in the whole of Europe.
Talking about the movie itself, it sorts of blurs the distinguishing line between a studio-produced film and a documentary. It's gritty cinematography, shaky camera-work, non-glamorous approach and the lack of an structured narrative makes it extremely realistic but at the same time severely reduces its entertainment value. The bleak urban Italy painted in the film is a far cry from the regal beauty of the Italy shown in tourist brochures. The Italy in Gomorra is crumbling down upon its own stark, squalid and bloody foundations.
For the first 45 minutes the story is tough to get hold of, and it only starts to clear up after the 90 minutes mark. The film presents the viewers with such a huge number of characters and situations that it sometimes becomes quite tough to hang on to the storyline. There was very little interconnectedness, the characters just chopped in and out of the story without any apparent relevance and lacking any cohesion. It was the indeed only the common social fabric that binded all the characters together. Now this is both an achievement for the director as well as a tough nut for unsuspecting audience to crack.
The film is unique in more aspect as well, in the fact that it completely shakes itself free of any empathy for the characters which makes it extremely emotionally uninvolving. But the viewer is allowed to soak in the decadent atmosphere and for two hours co-exist in the world of Comorra. Lastly it must be said that the film manages to generate the same feeling of annoyance and intimidation that it tries to expose in the story. The film is more rather a portrayal of society at its edge.
PS: I have to agree though that for persons who relate more to the subject matter than ordinary people sitting in a different country in a different continent, it is bound to generate more respect and admiration.
Plus factors: Cinematography, plot, and characterisation.
Minus factors: Story, duration of the movie, choppy narrative and dialogues.
My Score: 5.5/10