Berlin Review: ‘Piranhas’ is a Perceptive Yet Formulaic Immersion into the World of Neapolitan Teen Gangs

The kids roaming around the streets of Naples in Claudio Giovannesi’s Piranhas snort cocaine, hang out with hookers, and fire assault weapons. They are the barely teenage mobsters the city’s Camorra clans have recruited with promises of quick cash and opulent mansions, their interiors caught somewhere between the belittling sumptuousness of Xanadu and the revolting kitsch of a Trump Tower. Stunted adolescents propelled into adulthood at the speed of light, they inhabit a liminal world where ultra-violence teems with childlike wonder, the loss of innocence immortalized one gun-wielding selfie at a time.

Based on Naples-born Roberto Saviano’s best-selling novel La Paranza Dei Bambini Giovannesi’s Piranhas offers a far tamer ethnography of the Neapolitan underworld than the disturbing sociological study Matteo Garrone’s 2008 Gomorrah had pierced out of Saviano’s breakthrough literary debut of the same name. Anyone approaching Giovannesi’s fourth feature hoping to find the same fast-paced,
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