Gomorrah is certainly about an important topic—the massive corruption and organized crime in Italy, in the Naples area specifically I believe—and in most respects the movie seems to be quite well done. But what keeps me from rating it too high is how confusing it is.
There are, I think, five stories running in parallel. That’s not counting the opening sequence where a bunch of people get shot; I’m not sure which if any of the stories that is connected to. The stories, from what I could tell, only infrequently intersect.
I’d say for about 50% of the movie, I had a good or better grasp of what was going on. For about 40%, I had only a vague idea of who was doing what and how it fit in the story. And for about 10% I had no clue whatsoever, and it might just as well have been a scene from another movie.
The atmosphere, the acting, the general grittiness of it all is quite good. And I like the fact that it doesn’t glorify the criminals. (Though even a non-celebratory film about bad, violent people is still a film about bad, violent people. In recent years I’ve become increasingly disapproving of mass entertainment’s wildly disproportionate attention to organized crime and such, which I see as both a reflection and a cause of the public’s unhealthy fascination with such people.) That was enough to keep me interested for the first half hour to an hour, but ultimately I ran out of patience. If I’m going to sit and watch a movie for well over two hours, I want to understand most or all of it. Interesting trees only take me so far; I want to be able to see the forest better than I could with this movie.
I should also mention there are times the subtitles are completely unreadable. They made them white with no outline, and so when that part of the screen is white or a light color, there’s no way to make them out. I haven’t made that stupid a mistake in years with my cheesy amateur movies I make on my computer; even I know you have to have some kind of outline or shadow so the text will stand out against any color background. (Later in the movie it seemed like the subtitles show up better, like they remembered to outline the later ones or something.)
I’m pretty sure Gomorrah is a good movie, but I did not enjoy it at a level that would reflect that.