Top movie: “Gomorrah” (It, 2008)

This is the best Mafia movie I have ever seen. City of God would run it close, as a gangster movie. But this is about a squarely European scene. This is set in our backyard. And it is about business as well as crime.

We meet people low down in the Mafia scheme of things. A bag man who schlepps about paying out Mafia pensioners. A pair of punks thinking to take on the existing local leaders. A young boy getting his face known. A canny middle aged apparatchic fixing up the quarries the Mafia’s waste disposal business needs. A gown manufacturer caught out as he negotiates Mafia loans for his business. The manufacturer’s cutter caught out as he sells his expertise to the local Chinese.

The bagman is a weary coward. The punks are manically incompetent. The young boy is exploring his inner gay. The waste man is deeply wired to his small-scale, indebted landowners. The gown man is just another factory man trying to keep afloat. The cutter really loves those gowns.

There’s no apology or glorification here. We see ambition, fear, courage and weakness all flopping about together. These slices of life – of business life as much as of gangsterism – seem utterly convincing.

And the filming is so matter of fact that its extraordinary beauty might be missed. To be this realistic and this artistic – that’s genius, I’d say.

It is also a campaigning film. It makes one hate the Mafia. It ought also to make people glad to live in Britain or anywhere relatively prosaic. We may be a bit shaky just at this moment, but institutional captalism and law and order suddenly look really lovely.

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Publication date

27 November 2008