Women On Film – “Gomorrah” – Susan Granger reviews

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Forget about the Sicilian glamorization of “The Godfather.” This brutal Italian saga about corruption and violence reveals the ugly, soft underbelly of the Mafia-type organization that rules Naples and its infiltrates its environs through five intersecting stories about people who believe they can ‘work’ the system which generates over $233 billion worldwide each year.

Wearing a bullet-proof vest, Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato) is the local bag man who makes weekly treks delivering cash payoffs to the families of dead or imprisoned gangsters in the dingy housing project called Vele di Sampi. He’s carefully watched by 13 year-old Toto (Salvatore Abruzze), who’s eager to get into the ‘family’ business. Older teenagers Marco (Marco Macor) and Ciro (Ciro Petrone) are delusional rebels-without-a-cause, and it’s their image, firing automatic weapons in their underwear, that’s been publicized in posters and in the theatrical trailer.

Then there’s the cocky businessman, Franco (Toni Servillo), who hires college-educated Roberto (Carmine Paternoster) to help fulfill a toxic waste disposal contract by dumping poisonous refuse in the district around Campania. And a master tailor, Pasquale (Salvatore Cantalupo), who agrees to make clandestine midnight treks to teach Chinese competitors the intricacies of haute couture.

Based on Roberto Saviano’s 2006 bestseller, the title is not only a reference to the despicable biblical city, it’s also a play on the word ‘Camorra,’ the name of the Neopolitan criminal conspiracy. Director/cinematographer Matteo Garrone, working with several screenwriters, including Saviano, has crafted a gritty, convoluted tale of the lethal results of a power struggle within the different factions. If only he’d differentiated the characters more clearly, it would not have been so confusing.

In Italian with English subtitles, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Gomorrah” is a gritty, intense 8, culminating in a declaration that the Camorra crime syndicate has caused 4,000 deaths in the last 30 years (more than any criminal or terrorist group), funneling money into both legal and illegal enterprises, including the rebuilding of Manhattan’s World Trade Center towers, while infiltrating transport, tourism, textiles and banking,

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.