Romanzo Criminale : Season 2
Directed by Stefano Sollima
Starring Vinicio Marchioni, Francesco Montanari, Marco Bocci, Alessandro Roja, Andrea Sartoretti, Giovanna Di Rauso, Carolina Felline
A dramatised chronicle of the real life criminal exploits of a ruthless gang from the Magliana district in Rome.
The release of the second season of Romanzo Criminale from Arrow Films continues the label’s forays into classic televisual European crime stories.
Season 2 of the epic true life tale of the Magliana gang continues straight off after the bloody conclusion of Season 1. That series (also available from Arrow) concentrated on the rise of the gang from humble beginnings in the deprived district of outer Rome to becoming lords of the city’s criminal underworld.
Led by the ruthless il Libanese (Montanari), flanked by Freddo (Marxhioni) and Dandi (Roja), the season charts the criminal activity in graphic detail. Pursued by Police Lieutenant Scialoja over the course of the late 70’s to the late 80’s, the show is rightly regarded as a captivating slice of brutal and realistic true life crime TV.
Season 2 documents the fall out and power struggle within the gang following Libanese’s murder at the end of the first series. The series is written a kind of whodunnit, with rumours, suspicions and general paranoia surrounding the former boss’s violent departure. With both the police and rival factions constantly threatening to undo what was once a brotherhood of thieves, the various members have to strive to make sense of their situations… and somehow stay alive.
Romanzo Criminale is an engaging story well deserving of its status as premium TV. After some initial misgivings about how unsympathetic some of the gang’s activities are – always a difficult task for crime writers; you don’t want to make characters so grim that you cant find anything good about them – I found myself warming to the show. After all, this is real life – these were kids brought up in a seriously rough part of town, a million miles away from the glossy, romantic picture of the Eternal City often produced for film and TV.
As a visualisation of recent Italian history, the show creates a powerful and disarming picture of life constantly on the edge of disruption…
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.