19 January 2017



This is an absolutely stunning film, with sex, glamour and violence coming out its ears. When I saw that it was labelled 'Mafia thriller,' I was a bit, like, meh, purely because I hadn't really been excited by anything to do with the Mob since the last episode of THE SOPRANOS aired on HBO back in 2007.

Remember all the comings and goings in the diner while JOURNEY's 'Don't Stop Believing' played in the background, and then the screen just fades to black...? Classic stuff. I'm welling up again just thinking about it. SUBURRA is indeed a top-notch Mafia thriller, but in a different way.

It's set in Italy, for one thing, the very home of the Mafia, haha. Rome, to be precise. To be even more precise, it's actually set in the Suburra district of Rome, the area that would have housed the criminal underbelly of Ancient Rome, how f***ing cool is that?

I guess that there would have been all kinds of crime and corruption afoot in Ancient Rome in the glory days of the Colosseum, and the thieves, cut-throats and perverts would have needed a safe place to carry out their wheeling and dealing and other such deviant shenanigans. Enter Suburra.

Out of such seedy yet glamorous beginnings grew the city of modern Rome, and in this visually gorgeous thriller directed by the chap who brought us 'GOMORRAH,' crime (especially organised crime, as opposed to the messier, more disorganised kind) and corruption are both very much alive and kicking, thank you very much.

The action in this Italian-language movie takes place over one incredibly rainy week in November 2011. Day by day, we're counting down to an Apocalypse at whose nature we can only guess, given that the Pope wants to step down and the government of the day is on the verge of collapse. Truly, the Fall of Rome has never looked so good...

The constant rain and and the glow of the street lights in the dark suffuse the whole film with a fabulous golden hue, although the director mentions in the behind-the-scenes extra feature that the rain was not always easy to work with...! I can imagine the type of thing.

Probably insisting on the biggest star on its dressing-room door, the best parking space, filtered air and only crystal-clear drinking water flown in directly from the spring in the French mountains from which it originates and where it must be bottled at source and kept at a consistent temperature. Hey, we all know what these big stars are like, haha. Think they're so big just 'cause they're stars and all that.

Anyway, in SUBURRA, described by EMPIRE as 'a Mafia thriller even Scorsese would be proud of,' an underage hooker, stone-dead of an accidental drugs overdose in a high-up politician's hotel bedroom, unwittingly sets off a cataclysmic chain of events that culminates in God knows how many violent deaths. Things take on a sort of 'dominoes' effect as, one by one, walls come tumbling down.

Pierfrancesco Favino is superb as Filippo Malgradi, the handsome, rich but undoubtedly sleazy Member Of Parliament who likes to party with prostitutes and indulge in illegal drug use while his wife and child sit quietly at home in their fabulous apartment. Maybe he won't be so blasé about his criminal lifestyle when his choices bring him into direct conflict with the Mob...

The character of Malgradi is terrifyingly real. You think that politicians don't behave that way, that they don't wallow in the slimy muck of corruption to their hearts' content because they know that they'll never have to pay the piper? According to SUBURRA, y'all need to think again, baby...!

The Mafia 'Family'- 'family' in both senses of the word- in the film are brilliantly depicted. They all literally live together in a giant compound as big as a block of flats, with locked gates and savage dogs on hand to vet any callers.

They live in opulence and extravagant luxury and a million kids are running around yelling and playing even while the men are doing their dirty business dealings. All kinds of relations seem to be living together under the one luxurious roof. It really does seem to mean 'family' in the truest sense
of the word.

The head of the 'family' is a huge, bearded brutish bear of a man called Manfredi Anacleti. Completely devoid of any compassion or finesse, he only knows about getting what he wants. Right now, what he wants is revenge on the 'scum' who cut a beloved family member's throat ear-to-ear, but he also wants 'in' on a multi-million-bucks project to turn the waterfront of Rome into the new Las Vegas. That's where former crime boss known simply as 'The Samurai' comes into the picture...

I loved Dagger, the cocky, confident but extremely unpleasant baby mobster who genuinely thought he was a bigshot, a somebody, and also Sabrina, also known as Ninni, the stunning-looking prostitute who obviously was a total 'ninny' to get mixed up in the hookering business in the first place.

Mind you, she does tell both us and her moustached mate Sebastiano clearly and plainly about her skill-set and, I gotta say, it don't look too good. Maybe hookering was the best she could manage after all, haha.

My favourite characters, after the deliciously seedy Member Of Parliament Malgradi, are the gangster-slash-hitman known as 'Number 8' and his gorgeous, devoted but heroin-addicted girlfriend Viola. Their lives are fast, dangerous, sexy and lived right on a knife-edge at all times.

'Number 8,' with his bald head, bushy beard and fearsome tattoos, looks like a terrifying cross between an Irish hipster and an Irish rocker. I actually know guys who look exactly like that, over here. Trust me, it's a very current look.

I love that marvellous shot of Viola where she's perched on the rocks down by the seashore after getting a hiding from her fella for cutting up rough in a tanning salon. She looks so small and vulnerable, but also heartbreakingly beautiful, as the tide comes lapping in around her. So that's what you get for trying to avenge your bloke's attempted murder. Huh. Some guys are so disgustingly ungrateful. If I were her, next time I wouldn't bother my arse.

This utterly magnificent and gorgeously-shot film has been available digitally and on DVD and Blu-Ray, courtesy of ORGANIC PUBLICITY and KALEIDESCOPE HOME ENTERTAINMENT, since September 2016. Yes, yes, I know, and it's only coming to my attention now! Tsk, tsk. Heads will roll, and not just in the film...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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