Luca (2021)

Pixar’s latest film, Luca, takes us all the way to the Italy and follows the life of the titular character, a sea monster, who longs to have adventures on the surface after being introduced to the land by his new friend, Alberto, who is also a sea monster. The two escape to the nearby town of Portorosso in a bid to purchase a Vespa so they can go on many adventures. There have been comparisons made with other films such as Call Me By Your Name and Disney’s own The Little Mermaid but Luca is a distinctly unique film of its own and blends wonderful animation style with an unexpected storyline. Directed by Enrico Casarosa and based on a script by Mike Jones and Jesse Andrews, Luca will leave you breathless thanks to the beautiful animation, engaging characters and heart warming message.

Casarosa’s direction is wonderful and Luca marks his feature directorial debut for Pixar following his beautiful Oscar nominated short, La Luna. What made La Luna such a standout short among the Pixar shorts is how vivid it is in its use of colours as well as how emotional the storytelling is. Casarosa certainly knows how to convey the emotion of storytelling through the differing landscapes. The script also does well in serving this desire for freedom as we are thrust into Luca’s world with very little set up so we become introduced to everything as Luca is. Taking inspiration from the films of Studio Ghibli in terms of the rich scenery, coming of age journeys as well as naming the town Portorosso after Ghibli’s beloved film Porco Rosso which also takes place in Italy. Jones and Andrew have written a film that dives deeper than what’s on the surface.

Leading the cast as the titular character is Jacob Tremblay, who has had a brilliant career for someone so young. Having his breakthrough aged 9 in the Oscar winning Room, Tremblay has quickly established himself as an actor capable of bringing a variety of strong performances that many adults could only hope to achieve. This makes him perfectly cast as the titular character, Luca, who wants to explore the world against his parents’ wishes. There are a lot of similarities between Luca’s character and Miguel from Coco in that they are both young boys who want to venture away from what is expected from them and express themselves. Where Miguel wishes to create music, Luca wants to travel and learn about the world. At the start of the film, we see how Luca’s life is micromanaged and despite living in the ocean, is confined to a particular amount of space and is not allowed to venture outside of it before his eyes are opened by Alberto who shows him that there is an entire world out there. Tremblay embodies Luca’s adventurous side and enthusiasm for learning really well and makes the film even more enjoyable to watch.

The rest of the cast is full of newer faces as well as established names which provides a freshness and balance which is needed. Sometimes, animated films can be filled to the brim with starry names but this can take away from the magic of the film. Jack Dylan Grazer does a fantastic job as Alberto, the confident know-it-all who introduces Luca to the surface. As he grows closer to Luca, we begin to see Alberto’s deeper layers and his vulnerability begins to show. Grazer portrays this perfectly and, like Tremblay, has demonstrated his ability to act in a wide range of roles. Newcomer Emma Berman brings a wonderfully energetic performance as outgoing Giulia, who is determined to win the local triathlon while acting staples Maya Rudolph and Sacha Baron Cohen are absolutely wonderful in their small roles as Luca’s mother and uncle respectfully.

With the film being set in Italy and showing this big adventure and friendship between Luca, Alberto and eventually Giulia, the music had to be spectacular to match the film’s brilliance. When it comes to superb film composers, there are few that have achieved the emotion and spectacle in their music as Dan Romer. Romer’s score for the phenomenal Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the best scores this century thanks to his strong control using brass and strings specifically to convey the fine line between emotions. It is no different with Luca. Bringing in signature brass statements when the boys escape to Portorosso and mixing it with softer pieces, Romer adds another successful installment in a filmography that is bursting with so much talent.

Luca does have an abrupt start but once it finds it flow, the film begins to unfold and develop beautifully. Combining lovable characters, a great script and fantastic direction that has become a staple of Pixar creations, Luca brings an important message of accepting one another’s differences and pursuing your passions in a world that is full of sunshine and colour. A brilliant summer blockbuster, it definitely would have been great to see this on the big screen and hopefully Pixar will be coming back to cinemas with their next release.

What did you think of Luca? Let me know in the comments below!

Luca is available to watch on Disney+ now!

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