by director/co-writer Claudio Giovannesi
When we started writing Piranhas, the questions that guided me during the entire process were: “What happens to a bunch of teenagers when they make a criminal choice?” and, above all, “How do they manage to live out their feelings, such as friendship (which at that age means brotherhood), or the experience of a first love?”
I wanted to make a movie placing characters at the center of it—not a movie that talks about Camorra guys, drug dealers, or young criminals—but a coming-of-age tale about a group of teenagers who live in a place where the government is far away, there are no jobs, and a criminal life can be a likely alternative.
What I tried to talk about is indeed the recklessness of teenagers, and their innocence—which over the course of the story is doomed to vanish.
These are kids who desire the same things as our own kids, or our own brothers: the objects that our consumption-based society proposes to us—but they only way for them to get those right away is a gun.
Everything starts off as a game, but a game is something that one can pull out of at any time. When it becomes impossible to stop playing, then the game has become a war. My film talks about crime, which at the outset is experienced with the euphoria of a game; then it shows how the lead character wishes he could get out, he could go back to just being a teenager, and eventually how impossible it is for him to do it. This is what the film says in the end: it is impossible to go back, innocence is lost forever.
I have looked for empathy with the characters’ feelings, without judging them, without considering them good or evil, in the hope that the audience will share the empathy I feel for them. Therefore, I chose to tell this tale from the kids’ point of view, to show their teenager-like feelings towards the experience of crime and the drive for power. The way their criminal story is told is always based on their emotions, on their friendship and love stories, which are indeed doomed to fail due to their criminal lives.