Mob scene

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Matteo Garrone's drama about the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia that hasn't made in-roads into American culture quite like the Sicilians but is still going strong in Italy, knocks the wind out of the mob as we know it from movies.

There aren't any glamorous anti-heroes, other than the mention of Scarface's Tony Montana by two wannabe thugs who've got more bravado than brains. Instead you'll find a portrait of an institution at war with itself.

It's literally rotting the country's foundation (via a shady toxic waste removal service), lets the aggressively murderous dominate and chews up the few good souls who realize too late what they've signed on for, from a sensitive teenage recruit to a couture tailor whose dedication to his craft has allowed the mafia to exploit him for years.

Yet this approach proves to be just as compelling, in its own unique way, as a standard mafia story. The blood doesn't flow quite as generously, but just as spontaneously, building hair-trigger tension. And Garrone is excellent at creating a sense of both the Camorra's weaknesses and its utter, soul-crushing inescapability for some who get caught up.


Grade: A