Luca doesn’t look or sound like any movie Pixar has made before. It has its own charm and stimulates our imagination right from the start. It’s the living definition of an immersive experience (pun intended). Who else would dare ask us to take care of strange-looking sea monsters and then keep surprising us as we tell their coming-of-age story?
The story begins underwater where we meet an adolescent boy named Luca and his family. Little did these fish know that humans view them as sea monsters. Curiosity drives Luca to disobey his protective parents and to see what life is like above the surface of the sea. Director Enrico Casarosa and his team draw us into their living story, while Luca ventures out on dry land, where he is magically transformed into a human. He quickly befriends Alberto, another sea creature who longs to be human. The boys go to a coastal village on the Italian Riviera in search of the vehicle that will give them the freedom they are desperately looking for: a Vespa scooter.
Along the way, they make friends with a spirited girl named Giulia, who competes in an annual triathlon race and encourages her to join her and show off the city bully. Guilia’s stocky fishing father has no idea that he welcomes so-called sea monsters into his home. The boys risk everything to be part of this life if even an accidental splash of water betrays them and reveals their identity.
As usual with Pixar, the surroundings are very detailed and the people of the fishing village see and sound authentically Italian. There are a number of references to Italian films that are fun. Recognition is given to cultural advisors who helped the Pixar team get things right (as they did before). coconut). But the visual keys are unique to this project, where the characters are clearly graphic (with round, cartoon-like mouths) and the village is attractive and welcoming.
None of this was accidental. Director Casarosa grew up in Italy and took his colleagues on two research trips. “It was so important to go there to get the essence of the place,” he says in the film’s production notes. “It’s a very special place – the mountains and the sea, the big hills – it’s a wonderfully specific place that we had to experience together, both for team building and for the layers of detail that we can add to our film. In these coastal cities there always seems to be a trattoria, an ice cream shop, a wonderful bar where you can have a coffee. It was really fun to bring this feeling of specificity and Ligurian flair into the background of our film. “
“We went to the places that Enrico went to as a child,” says production designer Daniela Strijleva. “We watched him climb a 9-meter-high rock and dive into it – and after the shock we realized that he had been doing it since he was a child. This additional level of experiencing his memories and his nostalgia underlines his love for the place. And of course, meeting people from the region – fishermen, locals – gave us a lot. “
It all pays off, especially since the film combines its many storylines. Deep feelings about friendship, family and growing up after a summer long adventure draw to your heart. In the final moments of this wonderful, disarming film, I was close to tears.