Pixar’s Luca tells a coming-of-age fantasy story set within the picture-perfect summer paradise that’s Portorosso, a tiny low town along the Italian Riviera. Directed by Enrico Casarosa, a storyboard artist who makes his debut with the film, Luca isn’t just a looker, it’s also a funny, entertaining, and deeply emotional story about friendship and acceptance.
Luca is a sea monster who lives within the depths of the ocean together with his parents and grandmother. He has always dreamt of exploring the world above the surface, enchanted by motorboats gliding on the water. His mother’s warning about what humans would do if they saw his actual form, however, keeps him hesitant.
On the surface, it’s the kind of wholesome American entertainment that audiences have grown to expect from Pixar, but the undercurrent of sadness that runs through most of the studio’s films has been replaced by a fountain of optimism. It’s no wonder that Luca is in some ways about the fleeting nature of youth and so the importance of nostalgia. It is also a less strange version of The Shape of Water, but let's not get into that.
Jacob Tremblay and his Canadian accent star as the titular Luca, a young sea monster who discovers that he can transform into a person’s being if he ventures above the surface. But the town of Portorosso could be a dangerous place, whose inhabitants have long harbored a deep-rooted fear of the sea-dwellers, although they haven't ever really seen any. It’s this sight-unseen prejudice against the ‘other’ that makes Luca a movie of great relevance.
Unlike Soul, and different other recent Pixar films, Luca isn’t aiming for photorealism; it’s the rare cartoon movie that appears and seems like a cartoon movie. Although the technology exists and has been proven to work time after time, Enrico Casarosa and his team seem to be going after a more stylized look — a combination of hand-drawn and stop-motion animation. Not once do they try to ape the actual movements of a movie camera, or, like Toy Story 4, give the impression that physical lenses were involved. All this contributes significantly to the dreamy texture of the film's themes.
Luca isn’t the simplest Pixar movie ever made, but it does equivalent. The themes and even some plot elements could seem familiar, but the film is good-looking and substantial enough that it hardly matters.
The characters are endearingly written. The friendship at the center of the film, between Luca, Alberto, and Giulia, is loveable, sweet, and feels organic. The starry voice-cast, with names like Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Marco Barricelli, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, and Jim Gaffigan, doesn’t disappoint either.
But the verity star of Luca is that the visuals. The imagery in Luca isn’t skin deep. The virtually outrageous attention to detail that’s common to every Pixar movie is incredibly much present here and maybe appreciated only during a second viewing. With the stunning landscapes with vivid blue water, the sun-soaked town and its paved streets, the vibrancy that pervades everything, and gently rolling hills within the backdrop, Luca is one of the foremost beautiful films you’ll see this year. There is also a painterly, textured look to a number of the scenery that’s a deliberate artistic decision, and it blends well with the remainder of the aesthetic.
Final Score – [8.6/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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