Romanzo Criminale

  • Romanzo Criminale
  • Director: Michele Placido
  • Year: 2005

Michele Placido's film Romanzo Criminale begins with a group of boys stealing a car and going on a joyride that leaves one of their number dead and the rest in prison. They begin a life of crime, determined to conquer the Roman underworld and, for a while at least, they succeed.

The story, which is based on a novel by Giancarlo de Cataldo, takes its characters through the turbulent 1970s and into the eighties, and as the boys seek to increase their power - and through that, their independence - they only become more entangled with powers which will always be greater than themselves; the mafia, corrupt politicians. They are also pursued over the years by Commissioner Scialoja, played by the popular Italian actor Stefano Accorsi. (Accorsi, and actress Jasmine Trinca who plays the girlfriend of one of the gang, both appeared in Nanni Moretti's 2002 film La Stanza del Figlio.)

The story is fairly complex, and involves the characters with many real-life historical events such as the kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro (which also formed the basis for Buongiorno Notte) and the Bologna massacre of 1980, when a bomb left in a crowded train station left 85 people dead. The book was a long one, at over 600 pages, and the story barely fits into the film's 154 minute running time. As a result some events are sped through perhaps a little too quickly, and Romanzo Criminale could easily have been a much longer film, or perhaps even a television series. Timing aside, it's well directed by Placido and features some wonderful use of Roman scenery, including some dramatic death scenes that take place on the Spanish Steps and in the piazza in front of Santa Maria in Trastevere.