September 20, 2023

SUBURRA: Bad Guys vs. Worse Guys

SUBURRA (Blu-ray)
2015 / 135 min
Review by Tiger the Terrible😺

Fans of mob movies are highly encouraged to check out Suburra, a slick, violent Italian thriller from 2015. While no Godfather or Goodfellas, there’s a lot to like about this one, which adheres to the time-honored tradition of pitting bad guys against worse guys. Would we really want it any other way?

It’s confusing as hell at first, jumping all over Rome to introduce a ton of characters over a short period, their actions a little preplexing. But once the actual plot begins to take shape, those scenes’ importance to the overall narrative becomes clear. In a nutshell, corrupt Parliament leader Filippo Malgradi (Pierfrancesco Favino) is trying to push a bill that’ll turn a beachside region into a casino hot-spot similar to Las Vegas. He also has ties with a legendary mob boss known as Samurai (Claudio Amendola).

However, Malgradi’s drug-fueled tryst with Sabrina (Giulia Elettra Gorletti) and an underaged prostitute results in the latter’s death by overdose. To cover it up, Sabrina calls someone to help dispose of the body. But that guy, Spadino, decides to blackmail Malgradi. Unwilling to be threatened, Malgradi arranges for Aureliano Adamo (Alessandro Borghi, to intimidate Spadino into backing off. Instead, Adamo kills him.

"Let me trim those nose hairs for ya."

Because Spadino’s the brother of Manfredi (Adamo Dionisi), the vicious & violent leader of a rival family, this triggers a war with Aureliano’s crew. Samurai urges Aureliano not to strike back because there’s too much at stake with the upcoming vote (not-to-mention financial support from the Vatican). But Adamo is young, cocky and dismisses Samurai’s methods as archaic. 

There’s quite a bit more complexity to the plot, as well as some characters who seem to exist on the periphery, only for their later actions to suddenly (and dramatically) impact events…especially during the final act. Still, once we’re fully drawn into this world, the story isn’t all that hard to follow. Characters range from morally questionable to violently hateful, but all of them are interesting and well-realized by a great cast.

Suburra also boasts sure-handed, stylish direction by Stefano Sollima, who maintains a brisk pace. Perhaps too brisk on occasion, since there does seem to be a concentrated effort to keep the running time manageable, sometimes at the expense of narrative cohesion. Still, the film is a lot of lurid fun, with plenty of sex, violence, corruption and revenge. 


THE MAKING OF SUBURRA - One of the longest, most extensive making-of docs I’ve seen in a long time, covering every aspect of the film, from adaptation through release.



No comments: