Salman Rushdie said last Friday that Roberto Saviano, whose first novel Gomorrah sold over 1,200,000 copies in Italy, was at greater danger from a Camorra death threat than he had been from the Iranian fatwah.
I decided to go and see the film of the book in our local Exeter Picture House.
Gomorrah which won the Cannes Grand Prix is a stark gritty unglamorous look at life for the residents of Naples and Caserta under the domination of the Camorra clans.
Five separate independent strands of the story are covered in a documentary style.
Toto, a young boy tries to become one of the drug gang; two wild 'coked up' young men challenge the local Camorra boss; Don Ciro, who delivers money to Camorra families becomes involved in a clan war known as the 'faida di Scampia'; Pasquale, a tailor working for a factory producing high fashion, moonlights for a Chinese manufacturer with serious consequences; and a young man Roberto is involved in the Camorra's toxic waste business.
This is not a film for the casual cinema goer as it runs 137 minutes, and portrays a image of Italy that the tourist hopefully never sees with much of it filmed on a sink estate that made parts of Peckham look positively idyllic.
The film reminded me of The Wire, but as if only viewed from the perspective of the gangsters, and the result is both very bleak and frightening. The almost incidental violence is terrible and realistically sudden, human life is cheap and this is not occurring in inner city USA, but in supposedly 'civilized' Europe.
Gomorrah is an excellent exciting film but it should be regarded more as an educational event than cinematic entertainment. In other words don't take anyone who is nervous and holidaying south of Rome, this is not the Italy of the Duomo in Florence or the Campo in Siena.
[photo of Roberto Saviano from The Independent, scene from film from The Times]