An emotional experience
by Camillo de Marco
- Matteo Garrone’s films are above all a visceral event for the director himself
Matteo Garrone’s films are above all a visceral event for the director himself, “an emotional experience”, as he puts it. The immigrants of Terra di mezzo and Guests, the taxidermist of The Embalmer, the collector of anorexic women of First Love – they are all proof of this visceral quality, as is the filmmaker’s continuous search for other points of view, which amplify that experience with a distorting lens.
It is not surprising then that producer Domenico Procacci approached him to adapt Roberto Saviano’s book Gomorra, a vortex of powerful experiences on the Camorra, a Neapolitan mafia-like organisation. Garrone delved into the subject with passion, striving to infuse it with visual intensity.
The stories of Gomorra [+see also:
interview: Domenico Procacci
interview: Jean Labadie
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile] – the ruthlessness of two warring factions, arms and drug trafficking, the toxic waste business, the fascination with violence and easy money – come undone and are re-organised, like diseased cells. The characters penetrate and remain under the skin, thanks above all to their naturalistic acting – in particular, Gianfelice Imparato and Salvatore Cantalupo, a tailor in an illegal factory who sees Scarlett Johansson wearing one of his haute couture dresses at the Venice Film Festival.
The locations – the “sails” of the Scampia neighbourhood, working class buildings on the northern outskirts of Naples, the toxic waste dumps – are engraved into the film’s grain. All with the goal of offering an explanation of a criminal “system” that today even buys stock in the reconstruction of the Twin Towers. Yet in Garrone’s films social function makes way for anthropological observation, for the study of angle-shots (of spaces and men), without a starting point or conclusion. Only a small sliver of hope for a still-possible honesty.
(Translated from Italian)