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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Gomorrah, the Italian Slumdog

I worry when I don’t like a film that general critical acclaim suggests is an excellent movie. It makes me think that I either missed something or I just didn’t “get it.” I certainly didn’t “get it” entirely with Slumdog Millionaire – as I have been accused of a lot. However, I do feel slightly validated having Salman Rushdie on my side.

Gomorrah is an Italian mafia film – somewhat in the vein of Slumdog in that the setting is the dilapidated back alley of decay in an otherwise beautiful country. The poverty results in increased crime – the protagonists of the film are young boys without any hope of a ticket out of their circumstances, and so turn to crime for glory, power, and the Benjamins. Social consciousness is in these days. It’s a productive kind of cookie cutter, I guess.

Simply put, this is essentially just an Italian Slumdog that underemphasizes the theme of destiny and instead focuses on the economic situation of the characters. In this case, Gomorrah suffers the same deficiency I found with Slumdog, in that it comes off as preachy dealing with its subject matter.

Like Slumdog, a lot of the actors are hired straight from the streets. In fact, one of the actors has since been arrested for ties to the mafia. This explains why the actors all feel very natural. However, when it comes to divulging the horrible truth of poverty stricken individuals, I believe that a documentary would be a better medium.

There are simply too many dull moments in Gomorrah. The scenery is beautiful, but with nothing really going on, they may as well have put up photographs. There’s minimal narrative, too. The characters aren’t immensely developed, and there are around five protagonists to focus on. The consequence is that the film is about half an hour too long and underdeveloped.

What truly differentiates Gomorrah from Slumdog is the cinematography. In the latter, it’s a highly stylized, over-saturated visual poem In Gomorrah, the minimalist handycam adds a level of intimacy fitting for the subject matter… but, cinematically, it’s deficient. There are too many shots of one character in focus containing 25% of the screen, with the other 75% absurdly out of focus. It was a real pain to look at the screen. Entertainment shouldn’t be work like that.

For those of you looking for a mafia film like that cool Godfather movie, you ain’t gonna find that here. What’s here is a slow driven, plot diluted film, and – like the characters in the film – bankrupt of any cinematic substance. At least it’s socially relevant.