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Friday, July 2, 2010


You can’t take your eyes off of Matteo Garrone’s raw, dismayingly effective look at today’s Camorra, the thriving Neapolitan Mafia. Based on Roberto Saviano’s ‘factual novel,’ the film focuses on five stories to show just how broad & deep the mob has become. From child runners to tough punks, from grizzled enforcers to natty businessmen; there’s nothing romantic, honorable or inviting about the various drug scams, chemical dumping or turf wars. For most, life will be violent, banal and short. Using a Neo-Realist/Cinéma-Vérité tool box, Garrone sacrifices some visual clarity for verisimilitude, though he has a superb eye for composition when needed (look at that deserted gas station or the terraced truck lanes in the fresh dump site). Garrone credits Roberto Rossellini’s PAISAN/’46 as a main influence, but note how he merges his separate storylines into a single dramatic arc while seamlessly mixing professional & non-professional actors. The sense of craft & lost humanity feels more in line with De Sica . . . and all the better for it.

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