Kim Rossi Stuart
This gritty Italian gangster flick oozes one thing, and one thing only. Style. Set in the 1970s and 80s, the thing is positvely redolent in it. Sharp suits, designer sunglasses, beautiful cuts, glamorous shots. Plenty of mopeds, plenty of people saying Ciao. Italy has never looked better.
A trio of three friends steal a car and travel to Rome, hatching a plot to kidnap and ransom a wealthy businessman. It succeeds, and they make their fortune. But instead of quitting while they’re ahead, they decide to go further – and pool the money to take on Rome itself. The drug rings, the brothels, the protection rackets, the profiteering – they want it all, and they’ll do anything to get it.
Lebanese, Ice and Dandy rise to the top of their game and the height of their profession, taking on the world and winning. But with a lust for power that never ends and a desire for vengeance that spirals out of control, can the three friends stay together – and who will be left standing?
Romanzo Criminale is a film that’s just begging you to love it and, looking so good, you just might. If you look beyond the visual feast, youll find director Michele Placido has cobbled together a half decent storyline as well. The performances are solid, the action well handled, and the characterisation interesting and varied. But it’s not without its problems.
Set against the backdrop of the most violent and turbulent period in recent Italian history it, like many a gangster movie, attempts to chart the lifespan of a criminal gang. Such breadth makes a tight plot difficult to hold together, and the film instead focuses on recurring themes of vengeance and power. It segues slowly through loosely connected events in the groups history – a heist here, a hit there – and often seems unconcerned with really joining the dots between them.
At two and a half hours it also feels a little porky, dragging in areas it should have cracked on through. Despite this length, a multiplicity of characters have only brief amounts of time to explain themselves, and jumps forward are made frequently and rapidly, adding to a slight sense of confusion and indiscipline.
But, despite its length and quirks, this is still a very enjoyable actioner, and a worthy addition to the genre. And, if for nothing else, you’ve got to love it for its looks.