Suburra is an unstoppable film, with a thoroughly thought-out plot about political corruption, small crime, large crime and a lot of people. I mean: a lot of people, loads of people, and none of them can be called the main character, or perhaps any one of them can be. As we all know, ensemble pieces (or network narratives) are a dangerous practice, and films with a vast amount of important characters can either be disastrously bad or absolutely divine. Suburra is probably on the better side of this modest spectrum.
Suburra’s first twenty minutes are rather confusing, for a film with as many characters as this one must take some time to introduce every one of them. I must say, the film does this in a clever manner, but the inevitable heap of unrelated scenes at the start is hard to sit through without questioning Suburra‘s choice of narrative. However, the film does come with some stunning visuals and a nice slow electronic and M83 soundtrack (which will both probably remind you of the Refn’s Drive and The Neon Demon). When the main plot line starts showing itself, it gives us very exciting and clever connections between all characters, and that is precisely what makes this type of films so attractive. Apart from offering its audience a nice detailed story, ensemble pieces like Suburra are in itself a puzzle. With the complicated political events that make up the plot line the movie gives us a nice opportunity to ‘figure things out’. The spectator must continuously think of how each character is related to the others, and the film must provide us with some surprising and rewarding answers. Suburra shows this virtue, and ‘rewarding’ is the proper word to describe the way this Italian pearl reaches its viewers.
Perhaps we could even call Suburra a real crowd-pleaser. It’s clever, it’s visually amazing and it gives us as much drama as we are willing to take. That’s nice. It’s an entertaining movie, it really is. Not in the comedic sense, of course – Suburra’s plot is rather heavy – but the film gives us precisely what we need: dramatic plot lines, interesting characters and, most pleasing of all, redemption for the right people at the right moment. Revenge is a great tool to move an audience, and even with its great number of characters, each of them anti-heroes, Suburra manages to render most of its characters sympathetic and let its audience feel pretty good when the credits announce the film’s end.
Suburra is a film that knows its audience, and it doesn’t abuse this knowledge. It shows brutal violence, great melodrama, a cast that does a pretty good job and its visual brilliance is something that is hard to forget. Suburra keeps on giving, never standing still, but somehow it also takes the time to produce detailed characters and a very thorough plot.
The Guardian: “This is straight-ahead mob action, a vision of crows pecking each other to death when they’re not feasting on the corpse of “Bunga Bunga” Italy. It’s carried off with a great deal of flair”.
Independent: “…involving abduction, blackmail and vicious canines that would make Game of Thrones villain Ramsay Bolton feel ashamed”.
Empire: “By comparison, Se7en’s incessant rain seems more like an April sprinkle”.
Cineuropa: “The film by Sollima […] is nonetheless a flawless piece, blunt in style, without rhetoric or moralism…”.