screenplay by Jesse Andrews, Mike Jones
directed by Enrico Casarosa
by Walter Chaw Enrico Casarosa's Luca is a gentle love letter to the Miyazaki-verse set in a small, coastal Italian town called "Porto Rosso" in an obvious nod to Porco Rosso. The body of it, meanwhile, is parts of Ponyo, parts of Kiki's Delivery Service, bits and pieces of shots and sequences from Spirited Away, and even the scavenging scenes from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Luca's message of acceptance is general and loose enough to allow for a couple of innocuous interpretations, the obvious one being the Depeche Mode-ism of how people are people and shouldn't, therefore, get along so awfully, the more potentially impactful one a coming-out tale in which the residents of a cloistered community realize their friends and neighbours harbour secrets about their identities that they're afraid to reveal, lest they be ostracized, even murdered. It's tempting to go here, not just because the central drama revolves around the friendship between little Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) and his buddy Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), but also because of the late-film reveal that a pair of elderly spinsters in town are identically coupled. There are also moments where it's clear that Alberto, without being interested in her, is jealous of the relationship blooming between Luca and Giulia (Emma Berman), the little girl who takes them in when they find themselves needing a place to stay. It's there if you want it.