Movie Review: Piranhas

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Consumer alert: Claudio Giovannesi’s crime drama Piranhas has nothing to do with Joe Dante’s Piranha, Jim Cameron’s Piranha II, or even Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3D. Instead, the largely landlocked Piranhas centers on a lush-lashed 15-year-old boy named Nicola (Francesco Di Napoli) in modern-day Naples. Though he’s into modern-day things such as video games and taking Instagram selfies with his bros, Nicola is also drawn to the older-school crime world he grew up around, especially its pretty, pretty guns. Nicola and his buddies soon find their way into that world and its oh-so-sexy firearms, and in a nod to the rich history of Italian crime films dating back to at least the 1970s, Giovannesi photographs Nicola’s descent in vivid colors and often long, fluid takes. It’s also worth noting that the Italian title La Paranza dei Bambini translates as The Trawler of Children, referring to the criminal world that ensnares Nicola et al like so many netted shrimp, whereas the domestic title Piranhas implies that the kids aren’t the latest victims of this centuries-old cycle of violence but natural-born predators and thus the real monsters. We may associate organized crime with Italy, but where gun violence is concerned, leave it to the United States to be too toothless to acknowledge there’s a systemic problem at all.

Not rated. Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.

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