SUBURRA (Italy/France/Club/130mins)
Directed by Stefano Sollima. Starring Pierfrancesco Pavino, Greta Scarano, Jean-Hughes Anglade, Elio Germano, Giulia Gorietti, Claudio Amendola.
THE PLOT: Rome, and a crooked MP (Pavino) would love to see the Ostia waterfront turned into Las Vegas. Firstly though, he’s got to deal with an annoying little blackmailer who’s threatening to reveal that messy underage prostitute death in the MP’s hotel room. So, naturally, our boy takes out a hit. Which turns messy. Spectacularly messy.
And just to add conflict to the soul into the mix, Pope Benedict XVI has decided to get off the thrown. Holy.
THE VERDICT: It’s taken a little while for this Italian gangster hit to make it to our big screens, ‘Suburra’ – just like the acclaimed ‘Gomorrah’ – having proven a major hit in its native country before getting the go-ahead as a TV series.
And, hey, wouldn’t you know it, it’s the same director, Stefano Sollima having also director Romanzo Criminale and the subtly-titled feature A.C.A.B. (All Cops Are Bastards).
Once again, he’s exploring the underbelly of contemporary Italian life, and once again, it’s packed with violence, corruption, hot chicks and more than a dabble of comedy. Setting all the action against the backdrop of Pope Benidorm abdicating just adds another layer of absurdity to proceedings.
One of those outings where you pretty much know what you’re going to get. Which, in the case of Stefano Sollima, is a very good thing indeed.
Review by Paul Byrne

  • filmbuff2011

    Coming in under the radar, but all the better for it, is Italian crime thriller Suburra. It’s best not to know too much going into this film, as it grabs you, plonks you into your seat and sends you on a rollercoaster ride through the dark corners of modern Italian society.

    Set in Rome over the 7 days leading to an impending ‘apocalypse’, it charts the violent interactions between a group of individuals. A gangster known as The Samurai (Claudio Amendola) is both feared and respected by the other familias, to the point where he can walk around untouched and unafraid of being taken out. He wants to turn a coastal part of Rome into a decadent Italian Las Vegas. With politician Malgradi (Pierfrancesco Favino) in his pocket, he sees a way to get the development through the Government. But Malgradi has problems of his own, getting mixed up in his own drug-fuelled bunga-bunga party with two prostitutes, one of whom is under-age. The Samurai calls on Numero 8 (Alessandro Borghi) to intervene and keep the peace between the familias so that the development passes through. But a family of gypsies has other ideas, intent on revenge…

    Working from the novel by Giancarlo De Cataldo and Carlo Bonini, director Stefano Sollima has fashioned a riveting crime thriller with a hard, brutal edge. It’s no surprise to learn that Sollima has worked as a director on the Gomorrah TV series. Suburra is a cousin of sorts to Gomorrah (the film), though even the Neapolitan gangsters are scarier than their Roman counterparts. The Roman gangsters here still pack a mighty punch though, taking their gunfights out into the streets and, in one blistering attack, a supermarket and a shopping mall. Sollima stages these sequences with frantic pacing and editing, plunging you into a hail of bullets as violence erupts in the midst of a fragile truce. Sollima shows visual flair throughout, with a symbolic use of rain as a metaphor for impending disaster. This being modern Italy as well, the Church has a part to play in this apocalyptic story. Are they all interconnected in some way – the Church, the State, the underworld?

    Suburra features strong performances throughout, especially from the cool, calm Amendola and the more hot-headed Borghi. They may all feel like characters that exist within their own stories, but there are interconnections here which could reward repeat viewings. Netflix is unsurprisingly developing a series based on it, as there’s much greater scope here to expand on this world which is not all that dissimilar to our own. But the real find here is Sollima, a director who makes films with a steely determination that become more engrossing with each passing scene. The news that he’ll be directing the Sicario sequel is certainly to be welcomed. It’s in very safe hands. Suburra is buonissimo. ****