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Festivals Film Reviews Raindance Film Festival 2024

Review: My Killer Buddy. A heart-warming story of revenge

  • Release year: 2024
  • Director: Gianluca Santoni.
  • Producers: Stefano Sardo and Ines Vasiljevic.
  • Screenplay by: Gianluca Santoni and Michela Straniero.
  • Cinematography by: Damjan Radovanovic.
  • Music by: Dade.

Synopsis: a ten-years-old boy wants to kill his abusive father. To do so, he tries to hire a killer that turns out to be not so murderous after all.

Shotgun Commentary: despite the premise, this film is weirdly quite a fun watch.

Denni (Francesco Lombardo) and Secco (Andrea Lattanzi).
Source: My Killer Buddy (Gianluca Santoni, 2024).

Review

My Killer Buddy (Io e il Secco) is the story of Denni (Francesco Lombardo). He is a small kid who wants to protect his mother from the constant abuse she suffers at the hands of his father. To do so, he enlists the help of a young man, Secco (Andrea Lattanzi). He is supposed to be a super-killer, but turns out he’s just trying to con Denni out of his money. The feature follows the development of their relationship and how both will learn from each other as they get closer.

Trauma at its lightest

The main theme of the film is domestic abuse and how it affects people. On the one hand, you see it with Denni and his mother Maria (Barbara Ronchi). They are victims of Denni’s father, Fabio (Andrea Sartorelli). On the other hand, you have Secco, who is abused by his brother and presumably his father before him. In this regard, Secco is kind of an older version of Denni. A version in which the child never stood up for himself. Their dynamic is specially interesting because of the experiences they have in common.

It is very tricky to make a movie about such a serious topic and manage to make your audience laugh. Surprisingly, My Killer Buddy manages to do so effortlessly. Both protagonists are instantly likeable despite their flaws, and their adventures reach such surrealism that one can’t help but laugh. This feature is a great example of how the story telling can shape any story, regardless of the gravity of its core.

All about the pace

The pacing also helps in creating this light atmosphere. One thing happens right after the other, with barely any space to breathe or think. The non-stop succession of problems and solutions demands constant attention and engagement from the audience. In addition to this, the worst moments of the abuse, those being the mother being attacked by the father, are not shown on screen.

Secco (Andrea Lattanzi) and Denni (Francesco Lombardo).
Source: My Killer Buddy (Gianluca Santoni, 2024).

This works in favour of the movie in two ways. Firstly, it helps maintain the light-hearted spirit of the narrative; and secondly, it amplifies the tension that the spectators feel when they know that the father is fuming, but not the extent to which he’s hurt the mother. This lack of knowledge forces you to level with the panic and the weight that Denni is feeling, sharing the horrible situation that he is living with in the most powerful of ways.

A cast of talents

Of course, none of this magic could happen without the incredible performances of the cast. Sartorelli is perfectly loathsome in his role as Fabio. He showcases all the signs of an abuser so perfectly that you want to kill him even before Denni comes up with the idea.

As for Ronchi, this is her second appearance in a film in this year’s Raindance, the first one being in the amazing thriller Don’t Hang Up (Manfredi Lucibello, 2023). Even though she doesn’t get as much protagonist as she does in Lucibello’s feature, her talent still shines. As a victim of an abuser and a mother, you can’t help but love her and hate her at the same time.

Maria (Barbara Ronchi) and Denni (Francesco Lombardo). Source: My Killer Buddy (Gianluca Santoni, 2024). Courtest of: Raindance Film Festival.

She represents so many women who find themselves in the same position and don’t snap out of it until a specific event makes them. As a woman, it is so chilling to be confronted with that reality, regardless of how many times one sees or hears about it. Ronchi offers a fantastic reminder of this situation and, hopefully, a stark impression that can inspire other women to snap out of it too.

Lombardo and Lattanzi, with a lot more screen time, also offer incredible performances as determined kid and prisoner in the making, respectively. Their performances are symbiotic, both of them enhancing each other more as the story evolves. Their perfect sync harnesses an already great script to make an even better film.

All in all, My Killer Buddy is a wholesome watch that will melt your heart while reminding you of some of the ugliest situation one can live: insecurity in one’s own home. It is a reminder of how terrible those circumstances are and, most of all, how worth it leaving them can be.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • Don’t wait for your abuser to change or to “get better”, leave them. It’s not your responsibility to make them better, they need to do that for themselves.
  • If you have kids, you need to put their security first. ALWAYS.
  • Just because someone looks like a criminal, doesn’t mean they are.
Denni (Francesco Lombardo) and Secco (Andrea Lattanzi).
Source: My Killer Buddy (Gianluca Santoni, 2024).

What’s your take? Have you watched My Killer Buddy (Io e il Secco)? Did you take away any lessons from it? What was your favourite performance? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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