Italian mafia family Savastano, led by Don Pietro, have their fingers in many pies in the city of Naples. Cross them and you’ll find out the hard way as rival boss Salvatore Conte discovers after his mother’s house is set alight. With a group of dedicated men in his clan including ‘immortal’ Ciro and his mentor, the wise, experienced Attilio, Pietro Savastano has the world in the palm of his hand. However, when his yearning for bloodlust has tragic consequences, he begins to realise that not all of his men are what they seem.
With a snitch in the midst of his clan, it’s only a matter of time before Don Pietro will lose his iron grip on the city. When Don Pietro ultimately finds himself behind bars, his strangehold on the city becomes weaker and weaker. His only son Gennaro seems to be more interested in the opposite sex and having fun with his mates than running the family business though clan henchman Ciro does what he can to mould the young man into becoming the future Don of the Savastano family. Will it be enough to save the Savastano family name?
Gritty crime thriller GOMORRAH is based on Robert Saviano’s best-selling book and thrusts the viewer into the lives of the Savastano mafia clan. With the family living a life of magnificent opulence where material things such as a new motorbike or couch seem to be the only things that are of concern, you can see that the family comprising of Don Pietro, wife Lady Imma and only son Genny are at the height of their game. A few bad choices and their business begins to unravel, the power balance shifting between the family members and feuds rising between the clan members, both young and old, not to mention friction between other clans such as Conte’s and the Africans. The audience receives a front row seat into this alien way of life in all its harsh reality. On one side are the flash cars, crisp suits and designer handbags but peer through the keyhole and you’ll discover drugs being dealt on housing blocks, people being killed for their affiliations and the consequences all these have on the community surrounding them. This is a life you wouldn’t want to be a part of and simply watching it unfold on screen will have you on the edge of your seat.
GOMORRAH starts as it means to go on. In the first 15 minutes of the initial episode we have a flat being set alight with people inside and a cafe diner being blown up. It’s by no means a gentle ride – it’s full throttle all the way. The heart-in-your-mouth set pieces are terrifying to watch and hats have to go off to the stunt crew who deliver each and every time during the many shocking outcomes during the series. No-one is safe from being killed off. This is no fairytale and there’s no happy ever after – GOMORRAH de-glamourises the mafia image and shows what it’s really about. Trust me, it’s brutal stuff.
Using the city of Naples to its advantage, GOMORRAH is a stellar piece of storytelling. The series explores much of the city from the ghetto complex to the neon-lit nightclubs and all the businesses inbetween. With the Savastano clan having a vested interest in the entire area, much of it is explored and becomes the backdrop for murders, backstabbing schemes, drug deals and more. The underbelly is there and you don’t have to look too hard to find it.
GOMORRAH‘s biggest triumph, besides the slick direction, is the writing and, with the mighty asset of a talented cast to portray the story on screen, you have an absolute winning formula. Marco D’Amore stars as Ciro di Marzio, the shaven-headed hitman henchman for the calculated Don Pietro Savastano (Fortunato Cerlino). Ciro seems a level-headed honest guy but as the series unfolds, we realise that just like everyone else in the series, he’s neither black nor white in his approach to life. With each character layered with such depth and the respective cast member soaking it up, the viewer gets to enjoy and experience a thrilling piece of storytelling that will have you cheering on a character one minute and then hating their guts the next. No one character is good and you’ll find it hard knowing who to side with as each character tiptoes the line before going over it. Many of the characters go through transformations, the most dramatic being Lady Imma (Maria Pia Calzone) and son Genny (Salvatore Esposito), both of whom have to step up to the plate when their beloved Pietro is banged up behind bars leaving the Savastano clan to slowly break down, threatening their very livelihood, family and way of life. The mafia is not a career you can halt at any time and so the clan needs direction but will all those who previously served Don Pietro co-operate under new leadership?
GOMORRAH is something special. It has it all from gripping narratives, flawless direction and set design and an impeccable cast who never fail to deliver the goods. The series has received a massive amount of praise and for good reason. If all television programmes were as on-point as this, I’d never leave the house.
If you’re looking for a crime thriller that will you keep you on the edge of your seat at all times and doesn’t think twice about grabbing you by the throat and dragging you into its world, then this is it. GOMORRAH knocks it out of the ballpark and then some, though be warned – this is not a series for the weak-stomached. It can be merciless at times and often made me sit up straight in pure shock and disbelief at where the series takes the viewer but, by jove, it’s bloody good!
The next time you sit down to start a new boxset TV series, make it Gomorrah. You won’t regret it.