Romanzo Criminale (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner31/10/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 142 mins

Opens London Film Festival: 31st October

Exciting, impressively directed gangster epic with superb performances and a soundtrack ripped straight from Scorsese's iTunes.

What's it all about?
Literally translated, the title means Crime Novel, which isn't too surprising, given that it was based on the best selling novel by Giancarlo DeCataldo. It's an epic tale that spans 25 years in the lives of three friends, who take on the mob and eventually seize control of Rome's organised crime activities.

The story begins in the 1970s as three teenagers adopt cool-sounding gangster nicknames as they plot their lives of crime: stubbly tough guy Ice (Kim Rossi Stuart), diplomatic Lebanese (Pierfrancesco Favino) and ladies' man Dandy (Claudio Santamaria). As they rise through Rome's underworld, we also follow a cop (Stefano Accorsi) who's determined to take them down, despite his attraction to Dandy's hooker girlfriend (Anna Mouglalis).

The Good
Directed by Michele Placido (who also appears as an actor in The Caiman), Romanzo Criminale is a fast-paced, exciting gangster drama full of sex, violence, suspense, betrayal and revenge. Placido has clearly immersed himself in Scorsese movies, because the film is extremely reminiscent of Goodfellas, from its exhilarating action sequences right down to its rocking soundtrack.

The actors are excellent: Pierfrancesco Favino is probably the stand-out, while Kim Rossi Stuart brings a charismatic, dangerous charm to Lebanese. There's also strong support from the gorgeous Jasmine Trinca (who was also in The Caiman) as Ice's teacher girlfriend and Stefano Accorsi, whose relationship with Mouglalis forms an intriguing sub-plot.

The Great
In addition, the story is presented against a detailed historical background that adds real texture to the film. The only problem is that there are so many characters onscreen (the main trio are part of a much larger gang) that it's hard to keep track of who's who.

Worth seeing?
Scorsese had better watch his back. This is an exciting, brilliantly directed, action-packed gangster drama with strong performances and a killer soundtrack. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 12/12/2017 19:46

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