With Netflix (hopefully) releasing “The Irishman” at the end of this year, it’s natural for moviegoers to have gangsters on the mind. But if you can’t wait five months for a “Goodfellas”-inspired movie, “Piranhas” has you covered. Claudio Giovannesi’s latest, a crime story set in the mean streets of Naples, seeks to chart new territory without hiding its debt to classic mob cinema.
The official synopsis from Music Box Films says the film “follows fifteen year-old Nicola (newcomer Francesco Di Napoli) who lives with his mother and younger brother in the Sanità neighborhood of Naples, a place that has been controlled by the Camorra mafia for centuries. Dreaming of a life lush with designer clothing and elite nightclub bottle service, Nicola and his group of friends begin selling drugs, an entryway into the violent, power-hungry world of crime that begins to threaten their innocence, relationships, and safety of their families.”
The cast consists primarily of young first-time actors from Naples, contributing to the sense of youthful authenticity Giovannesi was chasing. The film’s differentiating factor seems to be its combining the gangster movie with the coming-of-age genre. The characters are shown in a human light, with the audience being reminded that they’re watching children.
In his review, IndieWire senior film critic David Ehrlich wrote that “’Piranhas’ effectively weaponizes its fundamental obviousness against a naïve young hero who’s so busy eating his way up the food chain that he loses sight of the fact that he lives in a fish tank. For all of its stock characters and standard-issue twists, this isn’t a film that sinks into cliché so much as it’s a film about who swims way straight to the depths after mistaking a glimmer of light for the surface of the water; it’s not a film about how crime doesn’t pay so much as it’s a film about why certain people can’t stop buying into it anyway.”
No matter how many stories we hear from that world, mafia movies continue to generate interest. Combined with the film’s authenticity and positive reviews, “Piranhas” could be a late-summer hit at the specialty box office.
Music Box Films will be releasing “Piranhas” in select theaters on August 2. Check out the film’s first trailer, exclusively available on IndieWire, below.