This multi-stranded Italian film which draws back the veil on the Camorra - a Mafia-like brotherhood that still exercises huge influence in Naples - is an atmospheric, well shot, well acted and convincing expose of Italy's underbelly.

Rather than telling a single story, it uses several tenuously linked central characters, each caught in the orbit of the world of serious organised crime, to develop a three-dimensional picture of this society and its most cancerous element.

There is Tito, a teenager who wants a piece of the action; Pasquale, a skilled tailor who tries to earn extra money by working with a Chinese factory; old-school money collector Don Cero and a pair of off-the-wall youths who imagine themselves genuine gangsters. Each is eventually either morally compromised or physically endangered by their contact with the Camorra.

'Gomorrah' moves deftly between portraying the grinding poverty and the occasional moments of jolting extreme violence. The machinations behind the scandal of Camorra-controlled mass illegal dumping is also laid out.

But this is more about the trajectories the large cast of characters find themselves on amid the constantly shifting alliances, the obsession with money, the perceived slights and the perverse honour code.

But instead of merely reviling or passing judgement on the Camorra or Italy's organised crime problem in general, 'Gomorrah's achievement is to show the complexities of how and why it is still such a powerful force. The glamorous, attractive aspect is not ignored.

Ultimately, the viewer comes to understand the cruel, dehumanising processes that continue to drive organisations such as the Camorra in the 21st century.

A brave film that is worth seeing.

Brendan Cole