In the words of a classically trained Shakespearean actor given one of the most begrudging and unenthusiastic performance of all time “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”. While he might have been describing the sandy planes of Mos Eisley, the same phrase could easily be applied to Suburra’s Rome. There are no “Good” guys in this movie. This movie makes sure to underline that there’s no white and black in the morality of these characters. It’s all black. Call girls, drugs, bribery, betrayal, double-dealing, rigged voting, the Pope, even would-be gypsy Mafia….and those are just the more agreeable characters.
So probably just as well the movie promises a coming apocalypse. And while we don’t exactly get an end of the world Armageddon situation, what we do get is quite a slick, not to mention bloody, crime drama revolving around a series of loosely connected stories of corruption and the quest for power.
A corrupt member of the Italian Filippo Malgradi (Pierfrancesco Favino) is out snorting coke and having sex with prostitutes (Because what else is a corrupt politician going to do?). When one of the underage hookers overdoses on drugs and dies. He flees the scene leaving the other hooker, who calls the brother of Manfredi Anacleti (Dionisi) a ruthless gangster and leader of the gypsy mob. This triggers a series of events that rocks the very foundations of the country.
While only released in the last few days it’s already a box-office smash in Italy and is already available to stream on Netflix in America. Does it live up to the hype? Well it’s certainly manages to keeps you on the edge of your seat for the vast majority of the movie. Even if the beginning of it isn’t exactly pulse-pounding stuff. It makes sure to get the political aspects of the movie across as a major theme. However once they get that out of the way things get serious and it’s becomes nothing short of a thrill ride. Which is certainly buoyed by directors Stefano Sollima’s sleek cinematography and soundtrack that really boosts the movie as a whole.
It could be argued that it’s popularity in it’s home country is how much it hits home given recent political history. In a story about corruption in Italian politics so you have to think a lot of the material was inspired by real events.
It’s very hard not to think that this film wasn’t influenced in some way by the fall of Berlusconi and his government. Especially in a movie where politicians openly have sex with hookers and snort cocaine. It’s hard not to think there’s some kind of satirical subtext of the political system in Italy.
It’s a very well crafted and clever crime thriller that you really don’t see anymore. Even if it does gloss over the most gritty details of a story like this and seems to glamorise the general gangster lifestyle.
But they’re hardly the first to be accused of that.
Suburra is on release now in select cinemas