Film Review: Suburra

In association with Glasgow Film Theatre

Stefano Sollima, director of Suburra, will likely become more known for what he is up to next – Soldado, the sequel to last year’s incredible Sicario. There is reason to be excited, as Suburra is one stylish and unrestrained noir flick.

In fact, its style is what leaves an immediate impression. The opening half hour could be a video for an old Weeknd song, but with added Catholic imagery. Featuring gruesome executions, corrupt guys in suits, drugs, and a threesome. It’s all shot beautifully, and these scenes of a seedy underbelly to life in Italy are presented mostly without plot. The glamour of the cinematography is the glamour that attracts politicians and crime families to do what they do.

Underpinning this excess is a pulsing soundtrack by M83. It makes Suburra more immersive, as each synth hook provokes an intense rush more akin to watching 2015’s house music-inspired Eden than other organised crime films. Like the beat of a club, the soundtrack compels you to move with those around you. On more than one occasion it seems like Sebastiano has the chance to escape his increasingly unfortunate situation, but it is no surprise that he plays along – like the drugs, like the beats, this is an addictive life.

The intimidating and cool Samurai is hoping for peace until planning permission for the area’s very own Las Vegas passes through parliament. Peace does not last, and he tries to keep the families from exacting revenge after revenge, while the politicians responsible for the bill are influenced and blackmailed. Situations snowball, and by the end there are no good guys – it’s about who sinks or swims in the ever-changing organised crime landscape. Respect is lost between generations, dangerous figures are ignored at the expense of those who should know better, and mistakes are always unearthed.

At just over two hours and with a lengthy intro, it could do with an edit job. The pacing is a little off at times too, as some characters get forgotten about only to reappear and have to re-establish what they had been getting up to. Mostly though, Suburra is a great neo-noir organised crime film with a hell of a look, an addictive feel, and a plot that doesn’t shy away from the visceral and the human.

[Scott Wilson – @HeartofFire]

The film will be running at Glasgow Film Theatre from the 24th to the 30th of June. Tickets here.

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