Double Bill : Crime, Italian Style

A couple of Italian crime films focusing on various criminal organisations in the country. Are they any good? Si, barone!

Romanzo Criminale (Michele Placido, 2005) translates literally as 'Crime Novel' and is inspired by the story of the Magliana Gang and their criminal activities from the 70s to the early 90s. Since it deals with the recruitment of four young friends into a criminal organisation and their rise to prominence within it, comparisons with the likes of Goodfellas or City of God are inevitable. It's not as good as those films, but it can still hold it's head up high in such company, not least because of the excellent performances across the board. It could possibly have gone further in its comdemnation of political corruption and there's a slightly unlikely plot development late on, but this is still a slick, yet gritty, crime drama and well worth seeing. 

Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone, 2008) is a kind of neo-realist take on the activities of the Naples-based Camorra, one of the oldest and most powerful criminal organisations in Italy. The film following multiple story strands at various levels of the criminal hierarchy, with some shockingly violent moments and a real sense of authenticity. It might have benefitted from a clearer narrative, which could have helped to contextualise the events, but it's compelling stuff, stripped of all romanticism and it's also refreshing in this type of film to find that religion and Catholicism gets nary a mention.

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