The film intertwines five stories of various insiders and wannabes: a middleman (Gianfelice Pimarato) who delivers money to the families of those imprisoned or murdered; a recent graduate (Carmine Paternoster) who takes on a job with illegal toxic waste disposal (a major cause of cancer in the area); a tailor of haute couture clothing (Salvatore Cantalupo) who makes himself a rival of the Camorra by training Chinese laborers; two young thugs (Marco Marcor, Ciro Petrone) who recite from the Book of Tony Montana and worship the stylized Hollywood mob tales; and a 13-year-old (Salvatore Abruzzese) whose initiation has him don a homemade bullet-proof vest and survive a close-range bullet.
No scenario or person in Gomorrah is designed to be romantic. None of the characters’ sentences are uttered with flair, though the thugs, Marco and Ciro, make an afternoon out of shouting “cock-a-roach!” in dim tunnels. It’s the young in the film who find the lifestyle alluring. From the moment they rip through Saviano’s pages and in front of cinematographer Marco Onorato’s lens, they are doomed.
Closing text tells us that the Camorra is the deadliest criminal organization in Europe--a fact mindedly spread throughout the film’s 137 minutes (shorter and yet still more revelatory than either Goodfellas or The Godfather trilogy, which must now make room for another instant genre classic). The text fills us in on what is missing from the novel (much, I assume, having not read it). Gomorrah is a stark reminder that Mafias don’t just make money through gangland slayings or extortion. These are businessmen who, one in the film claims, “solve problems created by others.”
There is, of course, murder, terribly effective and brutal. We don’t always know why these people are being killed, and maybe the assassins don’t know either. What we do know is that this is all real and it happens every day. A film like Gomorrah--not so common.
Interviews: The first, with Matteo Garrone (22:37) was shot in Rome and has the director discussing Robert Saviano’s novel, the death threats, the style of the film, and more; in the second, actor/director Toni Servillo (13:54) shares his thoughts on his relationship with Garrone, his character Franco, and more.
Actors (10:32): Gianfelice Pimarato (Don Ciro), Salvatore Cantalupo (Pasquale), and Toni Servillo (Franco) discuss their characters.
Roberto Saviano (43:00): In this interview, author Saviano (somehow alive, despite many death threats) sits down to discuss his 2006 book and the stories that inspired it. This addition serves as a great companion piece to the film, as Saviano expounds further on the workings of the Camorra.
Deleted Scenes (12:55): There are six here that are worth checking out for fans, but add little to the story.
Also included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a 16-page booklet with an essay titled “Terminal Beach” by Film Comment and Filmmaker contributing editor Chuck Stephens.