As far as I know, Italy hasn’t yet selected their official submission for Best Foreign Language Film, but I don’t see how they can do much better than Cannes winner Gomorra. Winner of the Grand Prize of the Festival, it’s toughest Italian rival might be Il Divo, winner of the Jury Prize. Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir calls Gomorra “a dynamite reinvention of the Italian Mafioso movie as both a multileveled social melodrama and an Antonioni-style nihilistic contemplation.”
Based on an Italian nonfiction bestseller about the Neapolitan mob known as the Camorra, Garrone’s film travels from the horrifying slum projects of suburban Naples to the corporate suites and the high-fashion ateliers, and finds them all poisoned and corrupted by organized crime.
We’re thrown into the middle of five different chaotic stories, and can barely keep up with the characters’ names. Two brash teenage idiots decide to wage war against the local Camorra boss, a boozy, video-game-addicted clod who makes Tony Soprano look like Lorenzo de Medici… Garrone finds marvelous, dark, symbolic and poetic images in the appalling and decrepit urban-rural sprawl of Naples, where Chinese immigrants live in a building that’s missing exterior walls and a pair of hit men stalking their prey must plod ankle-deep through the muck of an ox-shed. While his movie is about one crime-plagued city (the Camorra is believed responsible for 4,000 murders in Naples since the 1970s), it’s hard to avoid seeing it as a broader commentary on Italy’s recent social and political paralysis. Furthermore, “Gomorra” blends the disparate traditions of Italian cinema — the crime drama, the melodrama, the art film — more adeptly than any movie from that country in recent memory.
International poster (spelled with the ‘h’) above. European poster after the cut.