Black Souls (15)

Directed by Francesco Munzi
Picturehouse, Liverpool
12th January 2016

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

It took me awhile to get to grips with this Mafia-based film, becoming familiar with all the different characters - all members of the Carbone family - based in various locations in Italy, both urban and rural. But the effort proved worthwhile as the drama gradually unfolded.

In one of the opening scenes we see Luigi (Marco Leonardi - who played the youngster Toto in 'Cinema Paradiso) resolving a deal with a group of Spaniards, before we focus in on his older brother Luciano (Fabrizio Ferracane), who wants to cut himself off from his brothers and his former violent lifestyle, by working on his own farm in the mountain village where the family grew up.

His peaceful idyll comes to an unexpected end when his son Leo (Giuseppe Fumo) rifles shots at a rival family's storefront. In essence Leo wants to be a bona-fide gangster like other members of the Carbone clan, despite his dad desperately not wanting him to follow this path.

This act of violence re-opens old wounds between the Carbones and the other family enraged by this pointless act.

All the Carbone brothers have different views on how to proceed with this escalation of enmity.

Director Francesco Munzi has created a very sombre but very absorbing film, with a number of outstanding acting performances by some of the cast, notably Ferracane. It bears comparison with the 2008 film Gomorra, which was based on the book Gomorrah, written by Roberto Saviano, which exposed the secrets of the Naples Mafia. Since it was published he has continually been under armed guard.

This is not a run-of-the-mill gangster movie. It does not reach the peaks of the epic, The Godfather, but nevertheless is a highly accomplished film of that genre.

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