An animated delight prepared with an extra serving of splendor, “Luca” warms the hearts of viewers with its ever blue depiction of the Italian coast. Pixar’s latest film “Luca,” set in a dazzling coastal town on the Italian Riviera follows two young boys exploring Italian summer traditions while hiding their monstrous past as creatures of the deep sea. The premise is appealingly fresh to the genre, but old in its story archetypes and metaphors.
The title role of Luca (Jacob Tremblay) with his partner in crime Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer) make up a duo that felt authentic in every way a friendship should, at moments giving hints towards an even deeper connection. Luca and Alberto are both sea creatures from the ocean where trips to the surface are forbidden. Like any coming-of-age story, Luca and Alberto rebel and decide to spend their summer in an Italian town notorious for its imposing fish market.
The catch however comes when the boys touch water, completely exposing their sea creature origins to the human world. This concept is simple, yet effective in its ability to create plausible obstacles for the narrative. The issue with the boys being disclosed to the human world quite literally had me at the edge of my seat watching as they made their way through the town and all its inhabitants. The idea that the boys could be exposed to all of the derisions and malice humans project towards things they do not understand completely allowed the plot to realize itself within the social justice messages behind the film.
Then comes the tension between the two main characters. Here, I observed direct parallels to a popular romantic film called “Call Me by Your Name,” a movie set in northern Italy during a summer of bliss and love between two men.
“Luca” inherently calls upon “Call Me by Your Name” to spark a true connection between the two main characters who happen to become best friends in one summer. The final scene of “Luca” even mirrors an emotional train scene from “Call Me by Your Name”, addressing the hopeful nod of cinematic corollary prominent between the two pieces of Italian cinema.
“Luca” gets intensely emotional as characters betray each other over and over again. These struggles with affection and boyhood make for an empathic experience for audiences. Unfortunately, the film tends to rush through these moments in favor of long shots of the majestic Italian seaside. Nevertheless, “Luca” makes for an absolutely enjoyable film that at times feels familiar but still manages to forge its path as an original work of art.
“Luca” is available to stream on Disney+.