Having read Roberto Saviano’s blistering and insightful investigation into the Naples Camorra clans of Western Italy in Gomorrah a decade ago, and having watched the film based on the book too, I was intrigued to see how the series would add up and what it would take from the original source material and I wasn’t disappointed. Hell, it’s the book that has seen Saviano, since 2006, under police protection and in hiding. That’s a story in itself, but what Saviano did do was blow the bloody doors off the shady world of organised crime in areas such as high fashion, human trafficking and concrete, of all things. Seems there’s a lot of money to be had in concrete and the construction business. And, a great way of disposing of bodies and hazardous waste too, it would seem.
And, while you don’t need to be familiar with the book, you do need to be familiar with the first two series for you to relate to these band of cutthroat gangsters. In entering this shady world of low morality and even lower scruples, you may find yourselves choosing from the best of a bad bunch and that best bad guy has to be Ciro di Marzio (Marco D’Amore) a street thug who has risen through the ranks of the Mafia before seeing his family taken from him at the end of the last series, because of his own action I hasten to add. Indeed, a lot of huge, dramatic events took place at the end of the second seemed to make it feel like a suitable ending to the show, but not so. Like the real Camorra, there is always someone to take up the slack if one don or another gets bumped off.
So, at the start of this third series it’s all change as the young turks of the previous seasons have taken over and have matured somewhat in the intervening time. Ciro’s friend and ally, Gennaro Savanstano (Salvatore Esposito), has taken up the mantle of Head of the Family after the assassination of his father and a man who was once a spoilt gun-toting hoodlum has become a more Machiavellian and moody mobster. Hell, it was “Genny’ who ordered the hit on his own pa in the first place! Talk about cold.
Ciro too, who returns from self exile having killed Genny’s dad (howing that there really isn’t any honour amongst thieves), and is a man on a mission, taking up the very hipster looking Enzo “Sangue Blu” (Arturo Muselli) and his equally hip gang from the Forcella district as he seeks to rebuild his life and his career as gangster #1. Or, is he? Like so many other characters in this Greek (Roman, surely?) tragedy, what seems to motivating these people isn’t always the full truth.
With the lines of war drawn what you will witness is some very taut, tense double crossing that will make your head spin as bodies start piling up and deals are made, broken, and then made again. This is the story of the rise and fall (and rise gain) of Ciro, Genny and the enigmatic Patrizia (Cristiana Dell’Anna), seemingly a go-between between the feuding class of Naples. These are the new face of a modern street savvy crime clan who are now looking to be more than nickel bag dealing scum. No, these want to be big time scum!
Its a story that stays refreshingly street level where money may flow like water but those involved seem not to live in decadence. In fact, the back drop, as with the previous seasons, is the infamous Secondigliano district of Naples a wretched hive if scum and villainy if I’ve even seen one. A housing estate that has, in the real world, become synonymous with organise crime, crippling poverty, drugs and prostitution. This is not the world of The Godfather, that’s for sure and gives this series a sheen (or is that the rusty crust?) of realism that other shows simply do not achieve. I’m still amazed they filmed there at all! Maybe money swapped hands and deals were made in the real world, eh?
This is a series full of interesting, albeit dark and dangerous people, and as I stated earlier (you are keeping up, right?) you find yourself drawn to Ciro, a tragic anti-hero who has moments of real heroism in a world that does not favour such acts. Ciro, like Genny, has strived this long not simply for being a good soldier but because he has brains and the required kahoonas to get the job done and be two, three steps ahead of his rivals, building his gang of bawdy street brawlers into a well oiled organised crime unit ready to win back Forcella for themselves.
His brooding silence only adds an air of strength about him that anyone would be drawn to. And, usually are. The truly haunting soundtrack by Mokadelic only accentuates the air of tragedy that threads through the series along with the colder colours favoured in the cinematography and this sense of tragedy only builds and builds across each episode. I was genuinely gripped and ended up watching air too many back to back. You will be too as you are drawn into the lives of Ciro, Genny, Patrizia and the many, many other faces you’ll meet.
It’s a gripping programme and even as a hardened veteran of watching dramatic TV, the last episode hit me hard. That’s when you know you’ve been won over by what is, essentially, a show about bad guys. Forget The Sopranos, Gomorrah is where it’s at. You’ll thank me for for it if you do look it up.
Or, I’ll come pay you a list, maybe?
Gomorrah Series 3 is out on blu-ray/DVD here in the UK on March 12th for Arrow TV. America, looks like you’ll be waiting a bit longer. But, do check out the first two seasons available in the Colonies on disk.