A Ciambra

Director Jonas Carpignano follows up his debut feature, Mediterranea (2015), with this look at a multicultural, lower-class community in the southern Italian town of Calabria. A 14-year-old Romani boy named Pio (who also appeared in the previous film) comes of age in the criminal underworld, learning to steal cars and other expensive goods and sell them on the black market. He finds guidance not only from his older brother, already, in late adolescence, a hardened robber, but also from some African refugees who take him under their wing once the brother lands in prison. This is a vibrant if familiar art-house drama, with rough-and-tumble camerawork, highly physical performances, and fly-on-the-wall observations that recall the films of Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. Carpignano’s compassion for his down-and-out subjects is admirable but can’t obscure the derivative style. In Italian with subtitles.