After quite depressing Italian prison drama On My Skin, it’s time for something a bit more cheerful. The Ruthless AKA Lo Spietato is an easygoing and stylish Italian crime movie based on the rise and fall of Saverio Morabito. It feels different and more casual than other mafia movies, focusing on flashy visuals. The cinematography was simply gorgeous with saturated colors and crisp focus. And since the story takes place in Italy you can expect stunning architecture and that authentic Mediterranean vibe.
I dare to say that it offers a romanticized version of the criminal lifestyle although there will be some fucked up scenes. I said it feels different but it actually follows a tried and tested formula when it comes to the storytelling. Riccardo Scamarcio was excellent as Santo Russo, the guy is just so fucking charismatic despite looking like your average rural hood. This fits in perfectly with the story as young Santo or Saverio was born in Calabria and then went to Milan to pursue his dreams of becoming somebody.
The Ruthless is squarely focused on him so don’t expect a sprawling mafia drama like in The Godfather. It reminded me of French movies like The Connection and Les Lyonnais. You also won’t get invested in characters too much keeping a comfortable distance. This is really useful since they will be robbing, kidnapping, and killing people left and right. It would seem that the seventies and eighties were the golden years for these sorts of things.
We find Santo Russo living in a luxury apartment in the middle of Milan. He owns a car dealership and a bunch of angry Turks just walked into his office. They say he stole 100 kilograms of cocaine from them. However, Santo knows exactly what to say and do to make them go away for now. He learned that skill during decades of the life of crime. And we will learn all about it.
I loved the narration in The Ruthless. It really helps with the immersion and it brings you closer to the way of life back then. You start seeing that these kids never stood a chance and that the allure of a life of crime was simply too great. Especially if your father is a former member of the ‘Ndrangheta. There will also be a bit of romance as Santo navigates the treacherous waters of marriage and obligatory cheating. As always, I simply cannot resist one of the best television shows about the mafia. And before you say Sopranos, I must tell you that this is an Italian television show.
Gomorrah is based on Roberto Saviano’s novel of the same name and it’s fucking glorious. I’ll just say that Saviano has lived under police protection since 2006. I think that’s enough to make you check it out. Available on Netflix, The Ruthless AKA Lo Spietato is one of those easy choices you make late at night. You’re looking for a movie that’s easy to follow but still packs a punch. You’ve just found it.
Director: Renato De Maria
Writers: Renato De Maria, Valentina Strada, Federico Gnesini