director: Enrico Casarosa (debut)
starring: jacob tremblay, jack dylan grazer, emma berman and maya rudolph
REVIEWER: lyall carter
On the Italian Riviera, an unlikely but strong friendship grows between a human being and a sea monster disguised as a human.
Over Pixar’s nearly thirty years of celebrated cinematic brilliance that is almost unrivalled in terms of critical and box office success, we haven’t really seen this kinda film from them. It’s a simple tale of childhood friendship that isn’t slapped onto a quest to resurrect a father, a dash across the Land of the Dead to escape its clutches or an escape bid from the evil kid Sid.
The closest this film is to anything in the Pixar canon would be Wall-E and that’s stretching it a wee bit. And Pixar, unsurprisingly and once again, magnificently pulls it off. Luca is an adorable and touching ode to childhood friendship with the inventive storytelling and gorgeous animation we’ve come to expect from Pixar.
Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, the original animated feature is a coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. Luca shares these adventures with his newfound best friend, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: he is a sea monster from another world just below the water's surface.
Luca’s premise is a pretty simple one. Luca and Alberto are sea monsters who venture above the surface, meet a real human girl Giulia and together they attempt to compete in a triathlon so they can use the prize money to buy a Vespa moped. There’s no big, tremendous threat or quest to be had and therein lies the beauty of this film.
By keeping the narrative canvas simple, Pixar allows time to focus on the little oddities and the beautiful moments that make up childhood friendship. The friend who pretends to know more than others and in reality knows barely anything, building and rebuilding various contraptions, being fascinated with discovering new places together and then the inevitable rivalries that develop in a friend group. It felt like Luca perfectly captured the essence of my childhood - except for the living in Italy part.
Again, Pixar has perfectly captured the heart of Italy from the narrow streets to the glistering waves of the Mediterranean, you will walk away from Luca feeling as though you have travelled to Europe without leaving the comfort of your own home. The animation, as always, is breathtaking and the transformation from sea monster to human and vice versa is particularly extraordinary.
Luca is an adorable and touching ode to childhood friendship with the inventive storytelling and gorgeous animation we’ve come to expect from Pixar.