Telling the story of the real life Roman gang the ‘Banda della Magliana’, Romanzo Criminale (literally Crime Novel) is a frantic tale driven by lust, lust for power, money, women and drugs.
Director Stefano Sollima’s drama has been called ‘The Italian Sopranos’ by the Sabotage Times, equally the Radio Times likened it to an ‘Italian Killing’ and whilst it deals with similar subject matter to the former it maintains the ‘euro noir’ feel of the latter.
Its two series span a 15 year period from 1977 until 1992 and the story of the gang’s rise to power is set against a back drop of contemporary Italy, with the actions of gang leaders Lebanese, Freddo, Dandi and their cohorts interwoven with references to the increasing radicalisation of the Brigade Rosse, political terrorism, kidnappings and the governmental corruption which has dogged the country for years.
Alongside the scriptwriters eye for political context, director Sollima has a keen eye for detail, and the clothes – flares and leather jackets, the cars – rusting Fiat Pandas, and the music – all Studio 54, of the first series perfectly match its late 70’s setting.
The beautiful cinematography and Roman architecture is juxtaposed with a story which descends increasingly into the darkness that begins to surround the gang: violence, deceit, drug paranoia, prison and prostitution and at the end of the first series it remains unclear whether they can maintain their hold over the city’s underworld.
Series Two starts tonight on Sky Arts 1.
By Callum West