Suburra: gritty, bitter Eurocrime

An Italian neo-noir thriller about organised crime in modern day Rome. Gritty, violent, explicit and enthralling, it depicts the semi-fictional events of a single week building up to its ultimate ‘apocalypse’. Suburra pulls absolutely no punches in its depiction of brutal, street level intimidation and corruption among politicians and the clergy at the highest level.

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The narrative follows half a dozen key characters whose seemingly separate storylines collide with lethal consequences. The first half hour of this subtitled, two-hour movie is a little bewildering as we meet the old-school mafioso; the angry, tattooed young gangster; his junkie girlfriend; the sleazy politician who loves to party hard; the gypsy loan-sharks, the high-class call-girl and the fixer who provides the parties. A scheme to turn a run-down seaside area into a new Las Vegas unites this chaotic cascade of greedy, callous and cruel characters. As the plot threads pull the protagonists inexorably together, Suburra delivers nothing short of unpredictable intensity. You never quite know where the next punch is coming from.

This is not a tale of redemption or retribution. It’s a scorching portrayal of criminal collusion and violent extremes which fester at the heart of society. The filming is superb: setting acts of extreme cruelty in neon-lit, rain-saturated cityscapes of breath-taking beauty. For a film which majors on blunt force trauma, Suburra can be astonishingly subtle. One single scene paints the young thug’s dream of an imagined skyline across a rain-spattered window – vividly at odds with the blunt force trauma of a knife fight, or the snarling savagery of a tormented fighting dog.

Seldom will you see a better ‘gangster movie’. Debauched and depraved, outraged at its subject matter, Suburra is five-star entertainment for a mature audience. Fans of Gomorrah and Romanzo Criminale will adore it.

9/10

Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason

Suburra can be seen in UK cinemas in June 2016: then released on streaming, DVD and Blu-ray

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