“Gomorrah” comes to U.S. with an impeccable pedigree: it won the Grand Prize at Cannes and the Best Picture honor at the European Film Awards, and it was nominated for the Golden Globe, Independent Spirit Award and Critics Choice Award as Best Foreign-Language Film. It was also the Italian entry for the Academy Award as Best Foreign-Language Film.
Clearly, “Gomorrah” is supposed to represent the best of today’s European cinema…and if this is the best, I would hate to imagine the worst!
“Gomorrah” is a boring mess focusing on how the mob in today’s Naples has its tentacles stretched far and wide. In the course of the film’s excessive 137 minutes, five stories from various socio-economic levels weave in and out of each other: a rising young star in a powerful waste management company discovers the true dirt on his corporate patrons, a financially strapped clothing designer secretly teaches high fashion tailoring to the Chinese employees of an illegal sweathshop, a money-runner winds up in the crossfire of a mob turf war, two goofballs steal a stash of guns from the criminal elite and an ambitious 13-year-old gets himself into the good graces of the bad guys. Needless to say, there’s a lot of gunfire and tempers – and the lucky ones are those who merely wind up with hurt feelings.
Filmmaker Matteo Garrone strives for an Altmanesque quality in his overstuffed ensemble and seemingly disparate storyline that snake in and out of each other. But the effect is intellectually and emotionally ghastly. “Gomorrah” is stuffed with dull, one-dimensional characters who spend most of their screen time either screaming at each other or feeling sorry for themselves. But that’s when you can actually see them – the film’s cinematography is so dismally lit that one can easily assume Garrone made the film without paying his electric bill.
Can a gangster film elicit yawns? “Gomorrah” does that from start to finish. The film literally achieves the impossible by making the mob look monotonous. Where’s Bobby and Marty when you really need them?