Film review: The Bone Breakers by Vincenzo Pirrotta

The Bone Breakers is a gripping and intense Italian movie directed and acted by Vincenzo Pirrotta, who in recent months has reached international fame thanks to his sidekick role to Luigi Lo Cascio in The Bad Guy. Inspired by true events, The Bone Breakers revolves around an amateur criminal organisation in Palermo that fractures the limbs of its willing victims before staging fake accidents to collect insurance payouts. Pirrotta has crafted a disturbingly realistic portrayal of the dark underworld of crime in Sicily, and the performances by the cast are outstanding.

the bone breakers movie poster collage including vincenzo pirrotta and monica costa

The movie opens with a brutal scene inside a warehouse where a group of people, led by Vincenzo (played by Pirrotta), smashes a man’s arm to pieces with a wheelie bag packed with weights. This is the signature method used by the amateur criminal organisation to break the bones of their victims. The scene is shot in a raw and unflinching manner, leaving a lasting impression on the audience.

The story then follows Vincenzo as he recruits people from the streets of Palermo to join the gang. Among them is Luisa (played by Selene Caramazza), a drug addict who deals on the streets. Vincenzo’s problems escalate when a series of mistakes shuts him out of the gang, and he turns to Luisa as his only chance. He convinces her to have her bones broken so that they can collect the insurance payout.

The character of Vincenzo is complex, and Pirrotta’s portrayal is both convincing and unnerving. He is driven by greed and desperation, willing to go to any length to make a quick buck. But he is good-hearted and deep inside he would like to help other humans to get out of their misery. He fails to become the hero we would hope him to be, though. The scenes between Vincenzo and Luisa are particularly powerful, and Selene Caramazza delivers an excellent performance as a young woman torn between her addiction and the lure of easy money.

The Bone Breakers is a slow-burning movie that builds tension as the story progresses. Pirrotta’s direction is precise, and he allows the story to unfold naturally, without relying on unnecessary visual effects. The cinematography is excellent, capturing the gritty, urban landscape of Palermo with an unflinching eye.

The movie’s themes are dark and disturbing, and Pirrotta doesn’t shy away from exploring the consequences of the characters’ actions. The Bone Breakers is not a movie for the faint-hearted, and some scenes may be difficult to watch. However, it is an important film that sheds light on the often-overlooked world of amateur crime in Sicily.

The movie’s ending is both shocking and satisfying, leaving the audience with a sense of closure while also raising important questions about the morality of the characters’ actions. Pirrotta’s direction is restrained, and he doesn’t resort to cheap tricks to elicit an emotional response from the audience.

Overall, The Bone Breakers is an excellent movie that showcases the talents of its cast and crew. In Pirrotta’s own words: “I casted my friends as I wanted the set to feel like a family”. Stars include Antonino “Ninni” Bruschetta, Giovanni Calcagno, Filippo Luna, Aurora Quattrocchi, Simona Malato, and last but not least Luigi Lo Cascio, who chose his own character, Macchinetta, an addicted video-gamer who blackmails Vincenzo to get more money from the insurance company for breaking his bones.

Pirrotta has crafted a realistic protest film that is a portrayal of the dark world of crime in Sicily, with outstanding performers. At the UK premiere at Cinema Made in Italy Festival, Pirrotta said that he wanted his film to be ‘a punch in the stomach with no heroes and no happy ending’. The movie may be difficult to watch, but it is an important film that sheds light on the often-overlooked world of amateur crime in Italy. The happy ending is that in real life this criminal gang was arrested and jailed. Highly recommended for fans of crime dramas and Italian cinema.


Watch this space for my interview with the talented Vincenzo Pirrotta.

The trailer

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