Marco Macor, Ciro Petrone, Gomorrah

IFC Films

Review in a Hurry: A depressing pseudo-documentary that purports to tell the real-life story of the Camorra, the crime clans in Italy, in a series of intertwined narratives. Despite the wild praise the movie has received on the film festival circuit, it's a dull repeat of The Sopranos, only without any character development. 

The Bigger Picture: Gomorrah is based on the book by Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, exposing the sordid dealings of Italy's modern-day Mafia, which has diversified from drug sales into toxic-waste disposal. (The gangsters have even plowed their blood money into the Twin Towers reconstruction in the U.S., according to the film.)

But robbed of that context, the movie is a bloody and boring look at five people trapped in the Camorra's grip. The filmmakers use the journalistic style to cover up the inadequacies of their stories and their production. (Who knew cinema verité was French for crappy cinematography?) Everything ends exactly like you think it will: There's nothing surprising, aside from the punched-up sound of bullets on the soundtrack.

Maybe that's why, while the author of the book has gone into hiding, the filmmakers were reportedly welcomed by the gangsters during filming. There's no morality behind the movie, and the Camorra probably loved seeing themselves portrayed as the small gods of their run-down apartment blocks. Gomorrah aims for high art, but ends up being little more than another cheap glorification of cheap thugs, whether they're dressed in gold chains or thousand-dollar suits. 

The 180—a Second Opinion: Organized crime isn't just about The Godfather on Blu-ray. Exposing the reality and cruelty of the Camorra to the world is no bad thing, no matter how it gets done.

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