By – Gareth Jones
For fans of Pixar, themes of friendship, Fellini comedies
In spite of being absorbed by the Disney Borg, Pixar for the most part has still been able to release original films from new voices (I know, I am tired of all the sequels too.) In the case of Luca, this voice and story is from director/co-writer Enrico Casarosa, who was born in Genoa, Italy and brings his personal touch to this heartwarming film. The two leads are based loosely on his best friend from childhood (even retaining the name Alberto) and himself as they explored the Italian small town of their youth. This is folded over into a story of folklore and mythical beasts but it still is essentially a film about friendship.
It tells the story of two young sea creatures who become friends based on a mutual fascination of the above water world, and also a need to escape/find their identities. There are shades of The Little Mermaid, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the lighter comedies of Federico Fellini.
Released in 2021, ten years after Casarosa’s brilliant short La Luna, in the height of the pandemic, Luca ended up going straight to the digital streaming world on Disney +, although it did have some international cinematic releases. As a result, it fell a bit under the radar of many filmgoers including myself. Now, as a father of twins, I have been taking my children to see Pixar/Disney films in the theaters and also showing them at home since their birth. However, now that they are 15 years old, their viewing selections are theirs and they have moved away from the majority of Disney/Pixar releases. However, they do have their moments of nostalgia and last weekend, Mairwen (after being a guest on the show talking about Amphibian Man) suggested we watch Luca because of some of the same themes explored. I jumped at the opportunity and I am so glad that I did.
Casarosa has created a story that appeals to all ages while also making connections to many different audiences, some intentional, and others unintentional. The lead characters’ need to hide who they are in society, striking a cord with LGBTQ+ audiences. Luca has also been analyzed as an example of the refugee population’s need to assimilate and hide their true identities from the countries and cultures that they have inhabited. In either case, this was not the direct intention of Casarosa, but he has stated in interviews that he embraces all interpretations of his film. This is a wise decision not to discount these interpretations of his delightful film. Watch it with your children, or watch it with friends. It is a charming, yet profound film that connects with many people for different reasons.
Streaming on Disney +
Written by: Gareth Jones
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