To feel comforted is to feel nostalgic, safe and loved. Whether it’s mom’s homemade shepherd’s pie, a piece of entertainment that speaks to the soul or even a favourite blanket. If something is comforting to you, it is because it’s feeding what makes you… you! To put it in simple terms, Pixar’s latest film ‘Luca‘ has been an ongoing source of genuine happiness for me ever since I’ve seen it. It’s a movie that will make me smile from ear to ear and get me emotional every other scene. Having a film represent such pure, carefree innocence and making it accessible in such a way that anyone can relate to it is something truly beautiful. ‘Luca‘ is genuinely my favourite film of the year and I honestly don’t see that changing anytime soon.
The beauty of ‘Luca‘ is that it amplifies simplicity through childhood wonder. With a young protagonist as the viewpoint, this movie looks at the world with awe and exhilarating wonder. There is no epic quest or grand villain, all that matters to Luca and Alberto is that they get their hands on a Vespa. It really is that simple but the movie treats it with the utmost of importance because that’s what our protagonist wants to achieve. The visual language represents Luca’s perspective of the world. Portorosso is bright, colourful and full of life. Getting a Vespa and running away with Alberto is his ultimate dream. He has multiple ‘La La Land‘ moments where he drifts from reality into a wondrous state of mind full of naivete. This entire movie is essentially, a nostalgic trip to that carefree, eager and optimistic state of mind we have all strayed far from as we grow older. It never demeans its young protagonists but instead laughs along with them and revels in the joy of childhood. It’s one of the many reasons why it feels genuinely endearing.
‘Luca’ is a prime example of how great characterization and atmosphere can replace the importance of the plot. While plot and story structure are obviously crucial to a great film, ‘Luca‘ makes the decision to let the characters and animation do most of the work. It’s the type of movie where because the characters are so endearing, it makes every scene worth watching, there really isn’t a single dull moment. The praise goes both to the witty script and voice-casting but also the stunning animation and character design. The way these characters move and behave is so enticing to watch, they truly do feel alive. Whether it’s the incredible expressive facial expressions or even the way their body language changes depending on the scene, every character is truly a visual treat. This is easily one of my favourite animated movies ever from a visual standpoint and I genuinely hope Pixar keeps experimenting with character designs in the future because ‘Soul‘ and ‘Luca‘ are visual masterpieces. Matching that with the voice-cast, this movie really strikes gold. Jacob Tremblay is incredibly endearing as Luca, he is truly one of the most adorable protagonists to ever exist, I will protect him with my life. Jack Dylan Grazer is also fantastic as Alberto, his energetic performance compared to Tremblay’s more subtle and shy Luca makes for some adorable interactions. Emma Berman’s Giulia is also another fantastic addition to the cast, she is just as endearing and charming as Tremblay and Grazer and holds a very crucial role in their dynamic. Speaking of Luca and Alberto’s dynamic, this brings us to the “elephant in the room” which is, the queer element in ‘Luca‘.
As sad as it is, I don’t think we’ll be seeing an outright queer movie from Disney or Pixar anytime soon. However, it’s important to note that a movie doesn’t need to be romantic for it to be a queer movie. In my eyes, ‘Luca‘ is a hundred percent a queer movie and I definitely see Luca and Alberto as queer characters. Having this movie be about coming out and homophobia would’ve robbed it of its charm and innocence. I would much rather a whimsical animated movie where the characters are outright queer like in ‘She-Ra and the Princesses of Power‘ than a Pixar movie about coming out. Luca and Alberto don’t necessarily need to be in a romantic relationship for this movie to be queer. That being said, I could definitely change my opinion upon another rewatch. There is definitely something there and the line between friendship and relationship is incredibly blurred at times. The undertones are very apparent and any adult with a decent mind can see and appreciate what this movie is trying to accomplish. The message of accepting yourself for who you truly are and the importance of finding people who will accept you unconditionally will obviously hit home for the LGBTQ+ community. There is definitely a queer allegory for those who are searching for it. Then again this movie will mean different things to different people. As a queer person, however, this movie will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s definitely a movie I will be revisiting an endless amount of times. Disney should be ashamed they didn’t give this a theatrical release.
Overall, ‘Luca‘ is Pixar’s best impression of a Studio Ghibli movie and it hits the nail right on the head. The atmosphere is beautiful, the characters are lovable and the message and theme is a timeless one any age could use. The animation is genuinely breathtaking and the character designs are some of Pixar’s best. I would give anything to watch this movie on a big screen, the way it was intended. The queer undertones were incredibly effective to me, a queer person. That being said, the beauty of ‘Luca‘ is that it’s an allegory for many different things to a lot of different people. Anyone who wants to be the truest version of themselves will relate to Luca and Alberto and find comfort in the fact that this endearing hour and a half will welcome them into their small town of Portorosso and celebrate what makes them unique. To me, that feels like a movie worth celebrating.
‘Luca‘ is now streaming on Disney Plus.