A typical Mafia tale set in Rome but one carried out with some panache.




Even if one separates out thrillers featuring the Mafia from the broader sphere of gangster pictures, they are sufficient in number to be considered a genre in their own right. Some may be set in America, but with the Mafia being of Sicilian origin it is natural that Italy should be the prime home of these movies. Given the real-life stories that have emanated from that country in recent times linking politicians and even the Church with the Mafia or their equivalents such as the Camorra, it is hardly surprising that recent Italian films should include the likes of Romanzo Criminale (2005) and Gomorrah (2008).


The latest such film, Subarra, is based, like Romanzo Criminale, on a novel by Giancarlo De Catildo and shares three of the same scriptwriters including the novelist himself. In the circumstances one does not look for any great originality here and it is something of a compliment to the director Stefano Sollima to be able to describe Subarra as a very efficient example of the Mafia genre. Although it is the case that Sollima, whose second cinema feature this is, is best known for the TV series Gomorrah, he seems at ease here working for the big screen and sustaining the running time of 130 minutes.


Suburra is set in Rome in 2011 and has at its centre an unscrupulous politician, Filippo Malgradi (Pierfrancesco Favino, another link with Romanzo Criminale). He is playing a key role in getting legislation passed that will enable a property deal in Ostia to go through, one that involves several members of the Mafia. However, what triggers the drama leading to what is described in advance as an apocalypse is a meeting set up for Malgradi with two prostitutes: one of them is not only under-age but dies of a drug overdose. Trying to cover that up sets off a fatal chain of events in which many people, few of whom will survive, get caught up.


This is pretty well par for the course in this kind of work and the interest lies in discovering exactly how it plays out since none of the characters earns our sympathy. But on its own terms this is a very able film, well shot in colour and ’Scope by Paolo Carnera and aided too by a number of strong performances, not least from Favino himself, from Claudio Amendola as the Mafia king-pin known as Samurai and from Giacomo Ferrara as a youngster whose attempts at blackmail prove to be a very unwise move. Even if there is nothing new here, audiences who relish this kind of film should emerge from the cinema well satisfied.  




Cast: Pierfrancesco Favino, Elio Germano, Claudio Amendola, Alessandro Borghi, Greta Scarano, Giulia Elettra Gorietti, Adamo Dionisi, Giacomo Ferrara, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Antonello Fassari.

Dir Stefano Sollima, Pro Riccardo Tozzi, Giovanni Stabilini and Marco Chimenz, Screenplay Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli, Giancarlo De Cataldo and Carlo Bonini based on the novel by Cataldo and Bonini, Ph Paolo Carnera, Art Dir Paki Meduri, Ed Patrizio Marone, Music Pasquale Catalano, Costumes Veronica Fragola.

Cattleya. La Chauve Souris/Rai Cinema/Canal+/Ciné+-Kaleidoscope Film Distribution.
130 mins. Italy/France. 2015. Rel: 24 June 2016. Cert. 18