CRITICAL – The animated film invokes the carefree vacation with this tale of Vespa-fan sea monsters. A less elaborate fable than usual. But poetry remains in order, in particular thanks to the contribution of Chiara Mastroianni.
Each season has its own Pixar. The animation studio seems to have a sixth sense to guess the mood of the moment and tune their releases accordingly. The past autumn was coming Drunk, a metaphysical tale about the soul and death perfectly synchronized with the anxiety of containment and the pandemic. Since this Friday is online on Disney + Luca. The charming fable, to which Chiara Mastroianni lends her voice, turns out to be less elaborate than usual but remains very poetic which evokes the happiness and carefreeness of summer holidays. Bonus, the adventures of these sea creatures eager to live among men offer a shimmering journey into the delights of Italian summer and the wonders of the Cinque-Terre region with colorful villages stuck to the side of the rock.
A curious sea monster but a little fearful, Luca has only one dream of going to the surface, which his parents forbid him, who fear the harpoons of fishermen. As soon as Luca points his head out of the water, he looks like an enthusiastic brown boy, but under the Mediterranean or in contact with droplets his body becomes covered with scales and green fins. His meeting with a fellow creature will change everything. Living alone in a ruin by the beach, the reckless Alberto pushes the prudent Luca to defy parental prohibitions. Soon here are our two heroes in the process of merging incognito among the inhabitants of Portorosso. Object of their desire: the Vespa supreme reward of the annual triathlon of this fishing port. When the fishmonger’s daughter Julietta, also a fierce competitor, offers to form a team, the boys agree. Getting up to the level of the favorite, spoiled child and notorious cheater is not easy. Even less when a monster hunt is decreed in the village.
What is striking in the story of the Italian director and designer Enrico Casarosa is the precision and verisimilitude of the landscapes. The water, the sand … It feels like being on a real beach. As well as Portorosso (inspired by the locality of Monterosso). The narrow and sloping streets, the ocher and yellow facades, the card players and grandmothers of the main square, the posters of Mastroianni’s films (a wink that her daughter Chiara must have appreciated, who overtakes her mother. Luca Daniela’s hen) seem to come out of a travel book. As opposed to this hyperrealistic trait, the characters have the bonhomie and the roundness which recall those of Miyazaki. It is perhaps what participates in the impression of childish naivety of the whole.
A little involuntary scent of Call Me By Your Name
If Enrico Casarosa chose the Cinque-Terre it is because it is the place of his childhood memories, “A shore preserved from concrete, in its own juice” . Luca is a tribute to his own Alberto, his own best friend. “In the Pixar library, there aren’t that many films about the friendship between two young boys”, he tells the Figaro. Many Internet users have also found that Luca reminded them Call Me By Your Name. The same beauty of the landscapes, the torpor of summer, the same exaltation of the sweetness and the transalpine art of living. Until the criticism of New York Times who nicknamed the film “Calamar By Your Name”. “I wanted to capture a real connection, that delicate moment in adolescence when we are looking for each other. Friendship is precious because the other encourages us to overcome our fears and chase our dreams», Replies Enrico Casarosa. “In the film, Alberto pushes Luca to do things that make him want to but frighten him. He helps him get rid of this instinct that blocks us, this little voice that we have called Bruno ”.
The metaphor of the sea monster quickly imposed itself. On the one hand because it symbolizes the metamorphosis of puberty. On the other hand, the Italian imagination is rich in these monsters which appeared on the nautical charts of the 17th century. “ There are some very strange legends like that of an octopus who sounded the alarm and saved a village from pirates. Most often these superstitions were used to keep competition away from the best fishing grounds ”, laughs Enrico Casarosa.
Even if it sometimes looks like a postcard and nostalgia, Luca teaches a nice lesson in tolerance. “Sea monsters are not what you think”, notes Chiara Mastroianni, “It is neither Luca nor Alberto, but rather the villagers armed with their knives and harpoons who perceive the difference as a danger. I also really liked the character of Julietta, a young girl of today, reckless and sporty, first of the rope ». Julietta’s dad also marks another first. The imposing fishmonger was born with one arm. “It’s like that and it’s perfectly normal ”, Massimo declares to Luca. This representation of disability was close to Enrico Casarosa’s heart after discovering Netflix’s Oscar-nominated documentary Crip Camp on a summer camp which in the 1960s and 1970s welcomed many disabled children. The Italian contacted the producers of Crip Camp to be sure not to make any mistakes.