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Movie Monday: Romanzo Criminale

Monday, April 6, 2015

Romanzo Criminale

Directed by Michele Placido
Genre: Drama/Crime
Running time: 152 minutes
Released: September 30, 2005
by Warner Bros

After serving prison time for a juvenile offense, Freddo (Kim Rossi Stuart) gathers his old buddies Libano (Pierfrancesco Favino) and Dandi (Claudio Santamaria) and embarks on a crime spree that makes the trio the most powerful gangsters in Rome. Libano loves their new status, and seeks to spread their influence throughout the underworld, while the other two pursue more fleshly desires. For decades, their gang perpetrates extravagant crimes, until paranoia threatens to split the friends apart.


I found Romanzo Criminale, also known as Crime Novel, to be a really interesting film. It’s a criminal drama that is heavily rooted in human nature as a trio of young men dream of conquering modern Rome.

The three main characters are mostly referred to by their street names: Lebanese, Dandy and Ice, and they are tied together by a tragic incident from their past. Lebanese is the leader and is the dreamer of the group. He was the one who brought up the idea of starting their own criminal organization and conquering Rome together. One scene that stuck out was when he and Ice walked down a beach together and talked of the greatest emperors and conquerors of history and how they all rose and fell. Lebanese says, “Maybe that will happen to us, too.” In doing so, Lebanese likens himself to the greatest emperors of history while simultaneously foreshadowing his inevitable downfall.

Together, Lebanese, Dandy and Ice form a small criminal group with some other trusted friends. They quickly make a name for themselves as they have something to prove. They want to show that the new generation has arrived. They’re smarter, tougher and more brutal than the older figureheads. They don’t hesitate to kill anyone in their way, and they quickly begin forcing out the other criminal groups in Rome.

What really stood out to me when I saw Romanzo Criminale was how it portrayed extremely violent and dangerous criminals as human, and each of them had a fatal flaw. Lebanese, while being the classic tough-as-nails character, is steadfast and extremely loyal to his friends. He even suffered a permanent injury to his leg as a child when saving a friend. Ice is probably the easiest character to sympathize with. He realizes early on into their conquest of Rome that they are beginning to go too deep and attempts to leave, but is pulled back in by an incident. Dandy suffers internally because of his cowardice.

I enjoyed the film, but parts of it can get confusing, especially if you do not know your history, as the film makes constant references to world events and domestic Italian events. If you’re into crime films I would definitely recommend this one.

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