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Posted on 11/03/09 08:15 PM
I have two distinct emotions regarding this movie: admiration and frustration. Ironically, it's my frustration that reveals how sensational the film truly is. Every now and then a movie will cement itself as an instant classic. This particular piece of cinema may redefine a genre or even suggest that a new era of filmmaking is on the horizon. On several occasions during its runtime, Gomorrah almost reaches that level of distinction. However, to put it plainly, it tripped and fell right before crossing the finish line.
Ultimately, I loved Gomorrah. It boasts just about everything required to be a film festival hit: sharp direction, beautiful cinematography, art house style, fearless acting, an inventive narrative, and a social or political edict. My favorite aspect of Gomorrah is the sense that the camerawork has a pulse. Rarely utilizing a tripod, the movement of the camera suggests we are an unimportant bystander along for the ride. At times, the frame methodically rises up and down as if taking a breath, and the current angle will occasionally shift out of the way for a character and then resume its place. While it is certainly not a first-person film like The Blair Witch Project, I could not help but feel that I too was navigating the streets of Naples and Caserta.
Earlier, I alluded to its classification as a film that barely misses the title of masterpiece. My main issue with Gomorrah concerns the supremely-acted but emotionally distant characters. Garrone wants to deliver a knockout punch with this movie, but the distance between the audience and the cast is too great. This claim may seem like a contradiction to my previous paragraph, but I simply did not feel a significant attachment to any of the characters. The closest I came to empathizing was with the young TotÚ, and as it turns out, this character's defining scene is Garrone's best to date.
There are so many positive adjectives that could and should be paired with Gomorrah. What is equally unfortunate and frustrating is that 'timeless' is not one of them.