Hollywood & Fine’s Marshall Fine didn’t much care for Matteo Garrone‘s Gomorrah. It brought him down, made him feel badly. Well, you’re not supposed to “like” it. You’re supposed to let it in, sink into it, believe it, taste the ugliness, feel the menace, and be glad you’re not part of it, even with the recession and all.
Gomorrah is just not that into “entertaining” you. It’s supposed to make you go, “Holy shit, what a truly cold and unsparing depiction of an absolutely hellish existence, which I believed every friggin’ frame of.” After it’s over it’s supposed to make you run out of the theatre and down the main street of your home town (like Jimmy Stewart did in It’s A Wonderful Life) and happily yell out, “Howz it goin’, Walmart! How’re they hangin’, Ben and Jerry’s? Really good to see ya, Subway! How about a nice foot-long salami and cheese and jalapeno and lettuce and chopped tomato grinder? Heeeyyyy!”
Anyway, here‘s Fine, whacking this hard little film like some Bay of Naples hitman:
“Dark and downbeat, Gomorrah is another film that critics will champion and average filmgoers will scratch their heads over, while wondering how they let themselves get snookered — yet again — into coughing up the price of a movie ticket (or a video-on-demand fee) for a so-called important film.
“The book [it’s based upon] detailed how deeply the Mafia-like Camorra crime organization has burrowed in (in a Bush-era locution) to everyday Italian life in Naples and Italy in general. They haven’t just corrupted law enforcement and government officials; they’ve made themselves part of every facet of commerce, tainting all they touch.
“To his credit, Garrone does nothing to glamorize the criminals in his film. To call them gangsters would be to give them the same veneer of romantic fiction with which American movies have painted them — as though living outside the law is actually a noble calling, a strike against an unjust system.
“It’s not. And these aren’t gangsters. They’re criminals, thugs — some with more power or cunning than others but thugs nonetheless. They’re petty, murderous, and spreading rot to everything they touch. They don’t merely corrupt society; they infect it, causing despair and decay.
“Which is what makes Gomorrah such a joyless cinematic experience – more an assault than anything else. The director pulls the viewer directly into this mire and leaves him to fend for himself in a hellish, hopeless environment.”
Consider these current opinions of the film by an assortment of N.Y. Times readers.