Writer/director: Joe Raffa
Cast: Joe Raffa, Nicholas Raffa, Mianna Saxton, Alexander Mandell, Chuck Conners, David J. Bonner, and Brian Gallagher
Rated: Not rated (language, violence) | Original release date: 2011
Film is distributed by Breaking Glass Pictures | Official movie site | Official movie trailer | IMDb
Joe Raffa makes his feature directorial debut with You’ll Know My Name, a rugged and raw tale following Nick (also played by Raffa) on a night that will change his life. The film is set in South Jersey, a place depicted as being desolate and full of a mixture of muscle heads, potheads, oversexed girls, and those just trying to make a name for themselves.
Nick falls into the latter category. After his girlfriend Christina (Mianna Saxton) cheats on him, Nick goes out for blood on the guy. However it’s soon apparent that Nick’s motive is more than simply vengeance, but more of a way to make a name for himself by fighting the town’s tough guy. The film is made up of a series of flashbacks leading up to the fight, starting with the beginning of Nick and Christina’s relationship and touching on his family and friendships.
The film does a great job getting us to know and feel for Nick. He’s an average guy that I know someone like myself can relate to. Christina became his identity, and once their relationship crumbled, so did Nick’s purpose. By giving us a glimpse into his memories and thoughts, we feel closer to him and understand why he makes the choices he does (whether or not we’d do the same thing). I love when a film can make me feel like I am experiencing what the main character is and think how he would, and this one does a great job at that.
Movies taking place in small towns typically have much in common. Their characters usually feel trapped, and desire to do something worthwhile. You’ll Know My Name has these characteristics but also takes a slightly different approach. The film’s advertisements liken the film to a modern American western, which after thinking about it I found to be very fitting. It is more than a simple story about love gone awry. It’s a portrait of today’s misguided youth and ultimately asks them to think about what’s really important.
I really enjoyed this film. I liked that it was quick and dirty that got its point across without having to rely on style, sex, and other fillers. The film instead focuses on a character-driven story with mostly inexperienced or non-actors who provide a level of credibility (I would guess a lot of the dialog was improvised). The film clocks in at about an hour and ten minutes, which was perfect for what it was trying to achieve. I applaud Raffa for a solid effort in a realistic and meaningful piece and I certainly will be looking forward to more from him.