Based on the novel by Roberto Saviano (“Gomorrah”), Piranhas 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 naive 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.
Though it isn’t an explicitly gay movie, Piranhas is peppered with subtle homoeroticism, taking a close look at masculinity in a society influenced so heavily by organized crime. When asked about the film’s gay sensibility and undertones, director Claudio Giovannesi acknowledged the presence of homosexual attraction, saying “all the kisses, it’s not something that I asked them to do. They came up with that. That’s something they suggested. An interesting thing is that there’s a scene where you see a transsexual person and that’s very widely accepted there (in Naples) because in that culture a lot of those kids had their first sexual experience with what is called in that city ‘femminiello’. Which is strange, because it’s a very macho world, very chauvinistic, in which women are relegated to subordinate positions and the myth of the strong man is ever present. Having said that, it is a lot less homophobic compared to other Italian realities.”