Short Film Season
Gomorrah, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this years Cannes Film Festival, is a brutal look at the underbelly of Italian society.
Director Matteo Garrone doesn't pull any punches in this gritty, documentary-style adaptation of the novel by Roberto Saviano.
He takes the audience to a sprawling, delapidated housing estate where law and order are obsolete and the Camorra or Napoli mafia is king and everybody is affected by its influence.
We see the Camorra through the eyes of several characters: the young boy who has to leave his upbringing and his family behind to become part of the violent mob; the haute couture tailor who falls foul of the family; the young man who struggles to reconcile his conscience and loyalty to his employer; an ageing money runner looking for a way out; and two tearaways who cause havoc by stealing drugs and guns from the family.
This is no sugar-coated Hollywood tale of mob life and the overall tone of the movie is sombre and grey, as characters struggle to escape the inevitabilites of moblife; death and decay is everywhere - even a beach is transformed into a cold and lifeless location in the closing scene.
Scenes which start out light and carefree descend into bloodshed, accompanied by a score of Italian Europop music.
There are moments of brevity and comedy but its the scale of the movie that will take your breath away and the fact that it is based on a real underground industry that still operates today.
*Gomorrah screens as part of the International Film Festival. For more information, check www.nzff.co.nz.