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Fierce, fast yet not fully convincing
One thing first: I did not read the underlying book by Roberto Saviano. In that sense, at best, I did not bring a lofty expectation of a proper implementation of a literary material, but could dedicate myself openly to the screening of the film.
However, this endeavor became more difficult as a result of the film being awarded the Silver Bear for best screenplay at this year's Berlin International Film Festival. Such an award, which honored the shared work of the books author and the director, raises the bar quite high for the viewer. Additionally, the plots 'Mafia' topic couldn't be called to be among my preferred areas of interest.
Concerning the genre this full-length motion picture for sure can be counted to the crime films, but is due to its content course also to be regarded as a drama.
The storyline follows the experiences of a group of young people in the Naples of the present time and is located in an inner city setting between latent poverty, educational backwardness, archaic local power structures, violent conflict resolutions, ambition, high risk-taking and naive carelessness. The film does not approach this social subdivision gently and piece by piece, but establishes a narrative perspective that seems to originate from it and at the same time allows it to unfold in the eyes of the audience. This dramaturgical gimmick guarantees a high action dynamic from the beginning on, which is also captured by a frequent use of a shaky hand camera. During 110 entertaining minutes, authentic realities of life are touched upon, their points of contact representing the knots in the network of the storyline. The viewer is repeatedly put into pictures whose brute emotionality leaves at best astonishment, but rather bewilderment. However, this really powerful dramaturgy is at the same time the disadvantageous flip side of this coin: trying to bring such a complex social structure with different characters in just over one and a half hours on the canvas, the film is overstrained and woody in places. The predominantly young actors play lifelike and fresh, however, I came to the supposition that the German dubbing of the southern Italian language reflects the original habitus only inadequately and thus the parzivalous briskness of the young Machos supposedly might not convincingly be intoned. Open and obvious questions remain unanswered sometimes, while on the other hand unexpected insights into the mental state of individual protagonists arouse sympathy and understanding. The predominantly established closeups support this personal closeness and dares only to a full shot or a half-total, if the larger spatial context are able to reflect the individual inner conflicts and forsakeness. The escape, pursuit and fun tours captured in rapid motorcycle rides through the labyrinthine road network of the chaotic metropolis, alternately in a pursuing or preceding axis of vision, can also be seen as a metaphor for the wild, inner search for orientation, belonging and meaning. Unfortunately the soundtrack loses almost completely in front of the background of all these rapidly flooding images, despie the fact that the individual music pieces basically support the situations in principle well.
All in all, a worth watching movie, with perceptible weaknesses, but entertaining as a cutting-edge social study. It's like a flickering spotlight on a strange and yet so close world.
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