SUBURRA directed by Stefano Solima (Italy, 2015)

If, this year, you had been inclined to follow the age-old advice to do in Rome as the Romans do you might have attended a Mafia funeral, joined those protesting against travel disruption or become embroiled in one of the numerous corruption scandals.

2015 has been a veritable ‘annus horribilis’ for the Eternal City.

In this context, the movie Suburra looks less like a work of fiction and more like an depressingly realistic depiction of current events.

The title takes us back to ancient times, referring to the notorious red-light district of the city. The 21st century equivalent is an equally squalid world where prostitution, institutionalised crime, violence and general levels debauchery are routine.

Taken from a novel by Carlo Bonini and Giancarlo De Cataldo (author of Romanzo Criminale), the lines are well and truly blurred between the ruthless criminals and crumbling pillars of the establishment.

The fact that the ethics and morality of politicians and church leaders are no higher than those of crooks, addicts and killers means that it offers no cause for optimism. The absence of any redeeming qualities in the protagonists means that the message appears to be that things need to reach apocalyptic proportions before change becomes remotely possible. In other words everything must be destroyed before any foundations for a new set of values can be built.

The pace of movie is so fast and frenzied that it looks like a mini-series condensed into 130 minutes. With a spin-off scheduled to hit TV and streaming services some day soon, this is effectively what it is.

Don’t expect the Rome tourist board to provide any links or recommendations!