Luca Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Italy, the second half of the fifties of the last century, the small town of Portorosso, standing in the wonderful bay of the Italian Riviera. The inhabitants of the town trade in fishing, but at the same time they are very afraid of sea monsters, about which various legends tell. Interestingly, sea monsters – amphibians living under water – are really found here, only they themselves are very afraid of people.

Luca Paguro (Jacob Tremblay) is a 13-year-old sea monster who lives underwater with his parents Daniella (Maya Rudolph) and Lorenzo (Jim Gaffigan). Luca looks after the fish that the family breeds, Daniella and Lorenzo take care of the household. And both parents constantly conjure Luka in no case to rise to the surface, because people cannot stand sea monsters and hunt them. But Luka, of course, is attracted by what is above the surface of the water.

At some point, Luca meets fifteen-year-old underwater monster Alberto Scorfano (Jack Dylan Grazer). Alberto reveals a secret to the boy: it turns out that if an underwater monster rises to the surface and dries up, then it turns into the most ordinary person – they have such an interesting genetic property. Alberto also shares his dream with Luca: he wants to buy a Vespa, because Vespa, as stated on the poster hanging in Alberto’s hideout, is freedom!

Luka’s parents are terribly worried that their son has begun to wander God knows where, and they call their relative, the Sea Devil Hugo (Sasha Baron Cohen), from the depths of the sea. Daniella wants Hugo to take Luka with him to the depths, from where he will definitely not be able to rise to the surface. And then Luke runs away from home.

He comes to Alberto and talks about what happened to him. And Alberto invites Luca to go to Portorosso – there, Alberto believes, Luca’s parents will definitely not look for him.

In addition, another triathlon will soon be held in Portorosso – swimming, eating pasta and cycling – and if you win a prize in triathlon, then you can buy a used Vespa with this money.

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This Pixar film is the feature-length debut of Enrico Casarosa, the director who received an Oscar nomination ten years ago for his short film Moon.

Enrico is an Italian by origin, he was born and raised in Genoa, that is, in the same region in which the action in “Luka” takes place. And Enrico also had a childhood friend Alberto: he was two years older than Casarosa and he played an important role in the adaptation of young Enrico to adulthood.

Along with Enrico, Michael Jones, screenwriter of the recent Pixar film Soul, and Jesse Andrews, author of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and screenwriter of the film of the same name, worked on the script for Luka.

Unlike “Soul” and some other Pixar films that deal with important philosophical issues of human existence, there are practically no such depths here. “Luka” is a rather simple film, and in it the creators primarily concentrated on conveying certain childhood impressions and feelings associated with the most wonderful place on earth – the Italian Riviera!

It also addresses the question of the “otherness” of certain people (in this case, sea monsters, amphibians) and their acceptance or rejection by the local community. And here, of course, there are obvious allusions to the current migration wave that has come to Europe.

People do not need to be afraid of a man with a gun of underwater monsters, this film teaches us, and such monsters do not need to be afraid of people. They need to stop making up all sorts of fables about each other, make friends and become useful to each other!

Anyone with this will argue? We will not argue with the cat Bagel, we are ready to make friends with an underwater monster even now.

From the point of view of conveying a certain mood – childhood, all life ahead, the sea, the most beautiful small town in the bay, a bright dream, friendship – everything turned out, in my opinion, very well: the creators of the picture, it seems to me, managed to convey it all, so that the impression of “Luka” leaves a very light, and that’s great.

The manner of depicting the characters and the somewhat jerky plasticity of their movements, which is not very typical for modern 3D computer animation, is, of course, such a tribute to the director of the great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki: Enrico is a big fan of this director, and the name of the town of Portorosso is, of course, a reference to the famous Miyazaki cartoon “Porco Rosso”, where a humanoid pilot pig fights on the Adriatic.

The main antagonist in the picture is the overgrown Ercole Visconti (Saverio Raimondo), the winner of previous competitions: he is arrogant and very unpleasant. Some critics accused the creators of the picture that Visconti is such a very “cardboard” villain who does not have any interesting features, but in my opinion this is a completely normal approach, because what is happening is shown through the eyes of 13-15-year-old children, and they certainly would have perceived such a character that way.

In Portorosso, Luca and Alberto make friends with a girl, Julia (Emma Berman): Julia can’t stomach Visconti and wants to win the competition. And the three of them form their own team in order to divide the prize into three in case of victory.

Julia is very emotional, funny and funny, and they made a great trio. Giulia has a father – a huge, outwardly extremely stern and very respected fisherman in the town named Massimo (Marco Barrichelli). Massimo loves his Juliet very much, and he is ready for anything for her. And he became friends with Luca and Alberto.

And in the house of Giulia and Massimo lives a cat named Machiavelli. The cat is very suspicious, he quickly realized that something was wrong with Luca and Alberto, and the cat Bagel really liked this cat, because Machiavelli is just a hilarious character.

Of course, when Luca and Alberto give themselves away, and they can’t help but give themselves away, because they turn into marine amphibians from the slightest drops of water, everything will end well. The ending here, although expected, did not disappoint us in any way. And that some critics expressed claims to the finale, calling it touching – so I don’t understand, what did they want? So that the inhabitants of Portorosso, having learned that Luca and Alberto are sea monsters, would kill them with harpoons, or what? Of course, peace, friendship and chewing gum were supposed to come there – they did. And we fully approve of this.

Good cartoon, we liked it. No, this is not a masterpiece, it is completely optional to watch, but it looks good for both children and adults, the film perfectly conveys the charm of these places, it is coolly drawn (how impressively Pixar learned to depict the sea in various states is a completely separate conversation) , and it tells a simple, but good story. As a directorial debut, it’s really good.

PS Enrico Casarosa really wanted Ennio Morricone to write the music for the film and he was going to ask the composer for it, but unfortunately the great Ennio Morricone passed away in July 2020, so composer Dan Romer wrote the music for this film.

Luka / Luca review

Director: Enrico Casarosa Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan, Sandy Martin, Sacha Baron Cohen, Marco Barricelli, Peter Sohn

Animation, USA, 2021, 101 min.

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