Sunday, 15 October 2006

Romanzo criminale (2005) - ickleReview (cinema)

Italian mafia film about a gang of boys who form a criminal gang after an adolescence of petty crime and take on the established mafia in Rome, murdering their way into a position of power. At 152 minutes it's a very long film, but doesn't have the epic thrust of a Godfather to justify so many reels. I was getting bored after about 90 minutes.

The opening half hour has a curious tone: the characters speak all the gangster clich├ęs but it feels slightly fraudulent. Either the film is badly scripted and acted (or the subtitle translations wear away the cool idioms), or the characters are supposed to look like newbeats adopting a pose before they truly find their criminal vocation.

The film tries to tell a parallel story about the Machiavellian world of Italian politics and its resemblance to the criminal underworld, even suggesting the two are deeply related; but to someone who doesn't know twentieth-century Italian political history in any detail, the weaving of archive footage (if indeed it was genuine) into the plot made no great semantic impact.

The most intriguing character is the bald-headed State representative, who performs the same clean-up role no matter who is in power. There is a glimmer of a twist involving him at the end, but again it was opaque.

The best aspect of this film is its soundtrack. Reasonably stylish, yes, but based on what appears to be a pulpy novel (the title translates as Crime Novel), it has little original to say in the genre. At least it makes the gangsters more human and amateurish than the slick professionals of Scorsese and Coppola.

Nugget: average mafia Joe, although at least this time it's made by Italians. Curious, though, that they learned the syntax to tell such a story from American films.

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