Luca: Directed by Enrico Casarosa
SYNOPSIS: In a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, two young boys experience an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. But all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: they are sea monsters from another world just below the water’s surface.
Pixar is back and better than ever with another unique idea that isn’t based around any of their existing IP. Now I’ll be honest, there wasn’t much hype for me to see this film, not necessarily due to the film itself, but possibly due to the fact that the marketing for it was slim and the summer release schedule this year is absolutely stacked. Never would I say that a Pixar film could be “under the radar” but I think that just might be what this one will be.
This is a nice little treat of a film. Small in size and intimate in setting, the overall story and backdrop make it easy to understand the film and I really liked that. Pixar is known for having stories based on deep values and underlying themes that extend beyond just the normal age range. Usually centered around grand, larger than life stories. Luca has those themes and values, but packed in a smaller and more relaxed setting. For that, I enjoyed it.
The performances anchor the film. Jacob Tremblay and Jack Dylan Grazer give such dynamic performances that make you truly believe in this friendship between Luca and Alberto. Emma Berman is another amazing addition as the determined Giulia. The small size of the film gives these performances the chance to really stand out. The animation is absolutely stunning as you’ve come to expect with Pixar and the score is actually the definition of perfection, bringing the atmosphere to life and acting as a character itself.
In the end, this film has heart. The dynamic between Luca and Alberto is authentic until the end and the moments in the finale make the journey of that relationship worth it. The themes of friendship and pushing out of your comfort zone resonate from start to finish and extend just beyond the screen. I was left truly inspired to push past my limits and try something next. The finale was the perfect bow on the top and yes, I did cry at the end.
However, this is not a perfect film. While I enjoy the intimate size and the infectious relationship, there wasn’t too much to get invested in. As we learn more about the characters, we do cheer for them in the end, but the journey to get there seemed far more grueling and labor intensive than it had to be. It felt drawn out and the themes didn’t really resonate until the end. It took me a while to really get what was going on besides people just hanging out. I also felt that the water monster subplot was extremely underutilized.
FINAL: Luca is a nice little package of a film with an intimate background and some nice themes, brilliant voice acting performances and a score that truly embodies a region of the world. A film with lots of heart and a friendship dynamic that works when it needs to and the finale made me cry. It takes some time to get you invested and the main subplot doesn’t get utilized to its fullest and feels wasted in the end. Give it a watch when it comes out and see if it works for you.
25 for Entertainment 22
20 for Performances 20
10 for Direction 9
10 for Writing 8
10 for Emotions 8
10 for Cinematography 8
5 for Pacing 4
5 for Rewatchability 5
5 pts Automatic 5
Jack Lautaret is a film critic and the founder of the FinaticFilms YouTube Channel. He is a member of the Online Film and Television Association. Twitter: @jacklautaret
Check out my video review of the film here.