In the Slums of Naples, Bosses are Challenged

In the gloom that we called Sunday afternoon, we watched a movie filmed in contemporary Naples called Gomorrah. Like its Biblical namesake, this southern Italian city is indeed a place full of vices and the portrayal of life in the tenements was gritty and grim.

It was one of those movies where you miss a lot, despite the subtitles, because the nuanced conversations between youth, or aging mafiosis, are hard to put down in writing. The neighborhood’s apartments–hovels with screaming kids and other loud noises–are supported by the mob. A man named Don Ciro metes out the payouts, and nearly every recipient grumbles that they aren’t getting enough.
A pair of snot-nosed kids who think they’re tough begin to annoy the mobsters. They come across a cache of automatic weapons, and the next scene is of these two teenagers in their bikini briefs, firing off machine-gun rounds on a beach. You just know they’ll regret stealing those guns.
In a parallel plot, an experienced tailor named Pasquale betrays his Italian boss by conspiring to teach low-paid Chinese competitors to make the couture dresses in a sweatshop. They smuggle Pasquale into the factory and with a translator, he shows the eager Chinese how to make dresses just like the more expensive native tailors. Eventually, the car he’s riding in is driven off the road and crashes. It’s just not a good idea to mess with these guys.