Three years after his smashing debut (ACAB- All Cops Are Bastards), Italian helmer Stefano Sollima (son of the great Sergio Sollima) is back in crime with the audacious and effective Suburra. Adapted from their novel by Carlo Bonini and Giancarlo De Cataldo (along Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli), this new film is a neo-noir ensemble piece that focuses on connections between organized crime, the Vatican and Rome’s politicians, year 2011.

In Sollima’s film, Suburra (a seedy neighborhood of Rome) is the theatre of some dramatic turns of events taking  place in the course of a single week. An ambitious real estate project by a power-hungry politician is at the heart of several intertwined stories of a dozen of characters on the wrong tracks.

Suburra is a well-written and aesthetically polished film, the best italian crime-related film since Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah (2008). Sollima, who also directed both Romanzo Criminale and Gomorrah (the series) prior to this,  shows real flair in building-up the tension. An atmospheric and beautiful score by Pasquale Catalano (reminiscent of Elliot Goldenthal’s score for  Michael Mann’s Heat ), as well as some haunting songs by the french band m83, also helps elevate the film. The film works well dramatically by being  filled with believable characters whose course of actions and moral dilemmas are at the core of its themes. As the politician, one of Italy’s finest actor of the last 15 years, Pierfrancesco Favino  and, as a drug-addict, Greta Scarano  lead a strong cast.

A captivating and focused ensemble drama, despite the many connections between stories, Suburra is a must-see.