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Frontline in Sin City battle of the mobs

PUBLISHED: 13:53 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 17:11 16 August 2010

BELEAGUERED: Gianfelice Imparato as Don Ciro.

BELEAGUERED: Gianfelice Imparato as Don Ciro.

TAKING its title from the biblical city of sin, Matteo Garrone s Gomorrah is a gritty, naturalistic exposé of the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra, which depicts a community in which the criminal underworld has risen up to invade every aspect of life. The f

TAKING its title from the biblical city of sin, Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah is a gritty, naturalistic exposé of the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra, which depicts a community in which the criminal underworld has risen up to invade every aspect of life.

The film is based on a non-fiction bestseller by Roberto Saviano, now under police protection after receiving mob death threats. Garrone picks up five plotlines from the book, presenting each as a grim snapshot of life under the Camorra.

There's Toto (Salvatore Abruzzese) - a 13-year-old forced to make a life-or-death decision despite his age - Marco and Ciro (Marco Macor and Ciro Petrone), a pair of teenage gangster wannabes, and Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato), a beleaguered deliveryman who takes money to the families of imprisoned mobsters.

The Camorra's influence on outwardly respectable life is played out in the stories of Pasquale (Salvatore Cantalupo), an undervalued tailor who upsets his bosses by moonlighting at a rival factory, and Roberto (Camine Paternoster), a fresh-faced graduate who is forced to question his morals after landing a job helping the ruthless Franco (Toni Servillo) dump toxic waste.

Filmed on location in the Neapolitan suburbs of Scampia and Secondigliano, much of the action takes place in a grim housing estate - a giant, crumbling ziggurat which serves as the frontline in the bloody battle between rival mob factions.

The poverty and squalor serve as a direct contrast to the Hollywood tendency to glamourise mob life - a fact made jarringly apparent in a scene where Marco and Ciro clownishly quote lines from Scarface in a rundown car park. There are no charismatic wiseguys in designer suits to root for, just thugs in cheap sportswear. Squalid apartments replace fancy villas and messy hits are carried out on rattling mopeds, not from inside a Mercedes Benz.

With its powerful, uncompromising portrayal of a society tearing itself apart from the inside out, Gomorrah is a brutal but captivating piece of cinema and one made all the more startling by its basis in reality.

Gomorrah is out on DVD now.

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