Saturday, December 19, 2009



A Cannes prize winner, the film weaves a complex look at the activities of the Camorra, a crime syndicate that had the book author Roberto Saviano put under police protective custody for his expose on their activities, which range from drugs to dealing in toxic wastes, and their extensive money laundering activities which the closing credits stated their involvement in financing the new World Trade Centre in New York.

It's a gritty, unflinching look at the crime activities a modern day Italian crime family undertakes day to day, and the community that it both supports, and taps from. From the get go we're thrust into an environment where the gun is the leveller in settling disputes, and disputes which we do not have much detail of, only that scores of hitmen get engaged to permanently dispatch enemies. The introductory scene in the artificial tanning room will make you sit up for its mindless violence.

Presented in an episodic form with the focus on a myriad of one-function characters, such as a boy making his rounds to delivery groceries to family members of those incarcerated. But amongst the characters, the ones to stand out, in my opinion, happen to be from the point of view of two teenagers (who adorn the posters), for that sheer attitude that they consider themselves a cut above the world, like frogs in the well thinking that the world is not limitless, and being youths, think they have plenty of opportunity ahead of time, and hence with a lot of time to waste. They mock at the crime lords, not knowing what's in it for them, with false bravado fueled only by the cache of arms which they stumble upon.

It's somewhat hilarious as well, given that they are fans of Scarface, and can recite lines and mimic Al Pacino's mannerisms from that movie, thinking that it is all there is to it should they want to survive in the underworld, coupled with the usual wounded pride and ego in wanting to challenge the established crime family. They do seem extremely clueless of the kind of trouble they're getting themselves into, especially when trouble comes looking for them at a time when they're most vulnerable. Caught with their pants down literally, and while comical, it just goes to show that patience is all that it takes in order to strike effectively.

Gamorrah is a very bleak film, devoid of much hope, and there are some scenes especially toward the end which could be quite disturbing and unsettling. But I guess violence begets more violence, and it's difficult to try and break out of the circle when you're essentially entrenched into the system.

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