Let's start this review by Luca with a premise: if from the new Pixar film you expect the existentialism of works like Wall-E, Up or Soul (here our review) you are completely out of the way. The first feature film by the very Italian Enrico Casarosa, already nominated for the videogamingallday.com award for the best short film with the valuable The Moon from 2012, it is in fact a work that is as classic in themes as it is rarefied in development.
Luca is a decidedly peculiar and personal film, halfway between childhood memories and dreams, where sensations and colors are more important than the plot, perhaps even than its characters.
Made in Italy
The protagonist of the film, Luca Paguro, is a marine creature (a sort of mythological newt) that lives in the depths of the Ligurian Sea. He lives with his family made up of his father, his mother and a grandmother with whom he seems to have a privileged relationship. Luca's life is marked by a rather monotonous routine made up of breeding (mullet) and family, however the protagonist's curiosity towards the unknown leads him to have a certain fascination for the world of humans.
A world that at first seems to be physically closed to him and that instead, thanks to the encounter with Alberto Scorfano, it will suddenly become within reach. The two aquatic friends, in fact, once on dry land take on the appearance of human boys in all respects. An almost instantaneous transformation process which, however, is reversed as soon as they come into contact with water, giving rise to a series of "embarrassing" situations.Luca is a rather canonical story of formation and friendship
The small village of Portorosso, evidently inspired by the Cinque Terre towns and, as a backdrop to the terrestrial raids of the two friends, whose main goal of the upcoming summer seems to be to retrieve a Vespa Piaggio to escape to discover the world, is the small village of Portorosso, evidently inspired by the towns of the Cinque Terre and, as declared by Casarosa himself, an ideal tribute to Miyazaki's masterpiece, Porco Rosso.
In Portorosso Luca and Alberto will meet Giulia Marcovaldo, a girl who loves adventure and reading, who will host the two together with her gruff father, unaware of their nature. Here they will also make the acquaintance of Ercole Visconti and his gang of bullies, antagonists who are a little bit macchiettistico and, to quote the evergreen Stanis La Rochelle, "a little too Italian".
As mentioned in the opening of this review by Luca, the new Pixar film moves on thematic tracks that are not particularly daring or original. The story of Luca, Alberto, and only in a second moment Giulia, is a fairly canonical story of formation and friendship. Who expected a Call Me By Your Name animated by fantasizing about the theme of homosexual adolescent love, he will be strongly disappointed. None of this belongs to Luca, whose young characters are indeed completely desexualized. Of course, the impression of a kind of special bond between the two male protagonists can also remain but a feeling other than friendship is never expressed.
The other central theme is the fear of the different, which can only be overcome through the development of curiosity and, consequently, through travel, as in the most classic of Disney coming-of-age stories.
In fact, Luca is, on balance, a film closer to the Disney classics than to the more sophisticated Pixar works and the first minutes of the film, in particular, will turn on in the older viewers, reminiscent of the dated classic 1989, The Little Mermaid.A timid writing that seems afraid to focus on the story and its interpreters
In this sweetened coming-of-age novel, unfortunately, the supporting actors and antagonists are not very convincing. The bad Ercole Visconti, for example, never represents a real threat and becomes almost boring, caged in too stereotyped writing, unable to evolve it. Similar speech for Luca's parents who, after a considerable time spent on the screen to present them during the first act, seem to lose strength and purpose, getting lost until the predictable ending.
Writing in general is, in fact, Luke's Achilles heel. A writing that is really too shy, almost mannerist, which seems to be afraid to focus on the story and its interpreters, leaving them elusive, almost distant, as in a sort of lucid dream. A choice in all probability considered but which gives the viewer a feeling of emptiness, lack of content, as well as poor cohesion between the scenes. Wanting to be particularly critical, one has, at the end of the viewing, the feeling that Luca's plot was more suitable for a short film than for a feature film (moreover of only 95 minutes).
Pesto, Vespa and mandolin
From a visual point of view Luca shows to have a very strong identity, differentiating himself in a quite palpable way from the Pixar canons. The pastel color palette, the proportions between environments and characters, the more rounded faces, all contribute to a pleasant sense of novelty and freshness. Even the different dream moments in the film are visually very evocative and inspired, such as the one dedicated to the Vespa, despite some of these sequences being a little filling and not very functional to the story. Exceptional as always the work on the animations that here adopt a more slapstick tone than usual.
If after watching the trailer you wondered, like many, if the representation of Italy and the Italians was a bit too stereotyped in Luca, the answer is “no”. Certainly there are "simplifications", ways of representing the Italian spirit that sometimes lapses a bit in the cliché, albeit good-natured (the excessive gestures of the hands, the often high tone of voice, etc.). The soundtrack is also quite “easy” in bringing particularly well-known Italian pop songs to the stage, from Edoardo Bennato a Gianni Morandi, sometimes little amalgamated with the images.
From a visual point of view, Luca shows that he has a very strong identity
It would be quite a pretext to scream at the racial stereotype, even more so if we consider the director's Italian spirit, but we are sure that some discontent in this sense will not be lacking.
This review by Luca, therefore, ends with a not too large promotion. We are facing a certainly minor film in the glorious Pixar filmography. A pleasant film, which flows away like a glass of water but struggles to leave a long-term trace in the viewer's heart. Luca is fun, joyful, dreamlike but it is a journey that travels along tracks that are really too predictable and devoid of bite. A bit of a shame because with a denser and more courageous writing the final result could have been exponentially better. Luca is a film that will probably find particular favor in a particularly young audience but will almost certainly disappoint those who expect greater thematic and structural complexity from Pixar.
Luca will be available for everyone on Disney + starting June 18.
Review of videogamingallday.com Did you like the article? Share it!