Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Gomorra" (Language - Italian) (2008) - Movie Review

The style and emotion of a film sometime becomes its own victim. Most of the time it is the emotion of indifference to its story and its characters. That is something the director would have intended it to be to forcefully make the viewers become the member of the society or situation that is getting portrayed. At the end of the film, we walk guiltless as we do not break the characteristic of being a careless neighbour feared for our life or a part in that stage carrying the objective staleness of the film. But as the chores of our life begins to continue, we get reminded as being the spectator and the actual reaction sink in. Sometimes it is an indecision and most of the times it is the incomprehensible digestion of a casual atrocity. “Gomorra” will take that route in couple of days with me but this is a film about the documenting of five lives in a gang infested hood in Naples, Italy.

This is a mafia film but not the kind we have witnessed. There are no shining lights and costly suits. Not the flashy cash (always fresh from print in films) and not the sudden shot. The flurry of random firing at unexpected moments happen but in a stunning realism. It does not undertone the documenting characteristic of the film. It is a crude and realistic presentation of the clan operating and actually alive to feed in and feed off the people in and around it.

We see five lives in these congested and closely segregated flats. It is not maintained, shabby and dirty. It would echo like a mother when some one calls from a house. In this we see an aging middle man and distributor of the gang money, Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato). He has been the trustful member of one gang. He looks like a government employee working as an accountant. Which in this case he is and distributes the meager amount to the ground level workers. He visits their houses. Some of them are in jail and their families are taken care of. This is not the care Scorsese portrayed but a mere duty as if to maintain that portrayal. There is an old man complaining that the money is not enough to keep the living going. The heads of the gang are often shirtless and wander in their mediocre looking houses. Welcome to the actual state of mafia.

While the film carries a great semblance to the “City of Men”, in this the existence of this rivalry is a living organism. At no point in the film we are informed of what the gangs are and what is the reasoning for the killings. Director Matteo Garrone knows that it is of no relevance. In this families, regardless of the scenario and reality of seeing the danger in the streets, the kids fall into the same line again and again. Mothers try their best but to exist in this world, you got to take sides. And the sides have already decided through their husbands or fathers or mothers. For them, it is theirs respectively. The chain never stops and in the current day we see members shifting sides. Why they do, there is no reason. May be the kids might get a new bike. It just happens.

The influence of the films over this reality is surreal and scary. Two kids Marco (Marco Macor) and Ciro (Ciro Petrone) are introduced playing a scene from “Scarface” in a partly constructed apartments shouting back to their voices of echoes. They are cocky and thirsty for the replication of that film in their life. They steal weapons from gangs and coke from the dealers. The shoot it with burning desire and rage with their undergarment in an isolated back waters. Soon they become eventual targets and we see them dissolving their life without a care.

In the ring of kids into this pit, Totò (Nicoló Manta) a thirteen year old boy helping his mother in running a grocery store gets attracted to the routine. Himself and his friend fall in the gang and soon his friend moves to the opposite gang. He says they cannot be friends anymore as he has crossed sides. This is no code or honour but the functioning into this island in a city.

There are two other stories where a skilled tailor smuggles himself at nights into the neighbouring chinese factory to earn extra money and in the other story we follow a scheming and clever boss Franco (Toni Servillo) taking his new assistant Roberto (Carmine Paternoster) in his illegal waste dumping in the lands of the veteran gang members.

The ugliness of this whole situation is passed as a casual event. We see the film as if we are in a safe neutral zone and the life out here is a common occurrence of kids wanting to be gangsters, betrayal not carrying a meaning, drug trafficked money not seem to come out in the materialistic possessions and the bodies in pool of blood. We are disconnected emotionally in to this mess and we see it as an eventuality of a life in this hood. This mode of presentation as said earlier makes it a film I can admire but not love. But “Gomorra” does not want you to love it. It makes us to see ourselves numbed by the cruelties in that world.

(The post film information of the Camorra gang which the story is based on seem to have piled up bodies, toxic waste, money and drugs rapidly in normal moments for us.)

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