Thursday, 30 June 2016


The Mafia thriller as melodrama, Suburra is a very promising, very disappointing, very Italian version of those ensemble stories where every character is linked to another, themselves linked to another, and another, and another... These films are meant to imply an expansive scene of infinite connections, but are actually of the opposite effect - they create a closed loop, a hothouse of hysteria whose melodramatic accumulation of any number of high-stakes storylines itself holds no connection to any identifiable reality. These storylines are the usual: necessarily underdeveloped, and thus unnecessarily overcooked in order to cover lost ground, or so the intention goes. At least you can't accuse Suburra of doing anything by half - it's all drama, all action, all boring. Sorry, reader, that the tiresome old complaint, itself by now a terribly boring one, that a film has bored this reviewer should crop up once more, but it's of particular note here. Suburra is so stuffed with content that it's quite the shock to feel the urge to check one's watch at the two-hour mark (or even at all), only to discover that not even 90 minutes have passed. Perhaps the persistent predictability of the narrative - with four contributors, indeed - signalling every twist and turn long in advance and thereby expending much of their impact prior to arrival, is responsible. Director Stefano Sollima certainly is not; here is a film to convince anyone that the director is not always solely responsible for a film's failure. In fact, Sollima is near the only person responsible for Suburra's successes. His direction is unfocused in its style, though consistently vibrant, thoughtful, sensorially engaged, infused with energy that is infused right back into the film. He provides the thrills to this thriller, and promises exciting things to come in a career that's about to step up a gear.