Posted in 2020-2029, Film Review

Luca (2021)

© Disney and Pixar Animation Studios

Luca  – Film Review

Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph, Marco Barricelli, Jim Gaffigan, Sacha Baron Cohen

Directors: Enrico Casarosa

Synopsis:  In a picturesque town on the Italian Riviera, two young sea monsters go on a sun filled summer adventure above the waves…

Review: The summer, the time of year that promises super long days (depending on where you live), gloriously warm weather, and the prospect of making new friends and having an experience that you will never forget. However, what if say you’re a creature who lives beneath the waves, who desires to break free from his overly protective parents, and who yearns to experience live on the land that we humans dwell on? The answer lies in the form of the 24th feature film from Pixar Animation Studios.

Set in the picturesque town of Portorosso on the Italian Riviera, there are stories of terrifying sea monsters that lurk beneath the waves that have the residents of this town spooked. One such sea monster is Luca (Tremblay), who is categorically forbidden by his parents from ever venturing to the surface. His parents do not trusts those creatures that dwell on the land, and as it turns out, the feeling is mutual as the humans have a distrust for sea creatures. However, when Luca meets another young adventurous sea monster named Alberto (Grazer), the two of them form a friendship and head for the town for an adventure unlike anything that they have ever experienced before.

In any adventure/coming-of-age type story that features two characters going on a life-changing journey, the dynamic the two lead characters is fundamental as to whether this adventure sinks or swims. Fortunately, it’s the former as the voice performances of Jacob Tremblay and Jack Dylan Grazer are perfect, as they help to establish the friendship that quickly forms between these two young friends. These two are merely out to have the best time of their lives whilst they are living with the humans, and away from all they have ever known in their lives beneath the big ocean blue. Through all of this adventure, Luca and Alberto have their eyes on one prize, to own a Vespa, and this dream leads to Giulia (Berman), one of Portorosso’s residents who befriends Luca and Alberto. Instantaneously, there’s a connection between the three of them, as she is someone who is looked down by certain sections of the town.

Throughout all of their films, Pixar’s animation style has always been tremendous, and that streak continues with Luca. As Pixar has taken audiences on a couple of trips beneath the waves before, one could almost expect a similar style of animation when compared to those two films. Yet, the animation style feels much more different than not just the two Finding films, but rather any previous Pixar film in general. In many respects, what director Enrico Casarosa has crafted feels more reminiscent of Studio Ghibli than it does Pixar. The ensuing adventure that takes place between Luca, Alberto and Giulia is one that audiences will enjoy. The film is awash with plenty of laughter, emotion and familiar beats of not being afraid to be who you are. However, given that this studio has become known for those moments that pack the strongest of emotional punches to leave the audience’s emotions in pieces, there’s nothing of that nature to be found in this Italian Riviera themed adventure.

There is perhaps an assumption that any film that carries the Pixar name will have deeply philosophical themes throughout. Furthermore, given many of their prior films have for instance, touched on deep questions about life and the passions we have, our deep connection with life and music, or the emotions that guide us through life. Indeed, when their films attempt to answer these philosophical questions, is arguably where Pixar have excelled the most, whilst reducing audiences to emotional wrecks. On the one hand, it is the case that due to this lack of emotional depth, Luca is unable to surpass those films that have come before it. Yet on the other hand, it is perhaps a bit unfair to expect every Pixar film to tackle these existential themes every time is perhaps a bit unfair. Luca promises a sun soaked adventure filled with laughs, friendship and, yes, dreams about one day owning a Vespa, and that’s what it delivers. Magnifico!

It may be more simplistic and formulaic than many of previous Pixar films, yet thanks to the performances of its three leads, and a vibrant style of animation, this sun-soaked adventure will warm your heart.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Room (2015)

room-2015
Image rights belong to Element Pictures, No Trace Camping, Film4 and A24 Films

Room – Film Review

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Synopsis:  A mother and her son are locked in a tiny room and are being held captive, and these four walls are all the boy knows of the outside world.

Review: As human beings, we all know of the world we live in. The wonders and sometimes horrors of our world can inspire, they can amaze, and they can horrify in equal measure. We’re accustomed to our surroundings, and our homes. So imagine if the four walls of a small shed were all you knew of the world, and what you called home, and you had no idea of what exists beyond those walls. Well for young Jack (Jacob Tremblay) that is exactly what he thinks. His mother on the other hand knows that there is life beyond their solitary confinement but she hasn’t seen it in seven long years after being kidnapped. But she has her little boy, and that is keeping her going through all the years of captivity and hardship that she has endured.

The screenplay, written by Emma Donoghue which is adapted from her book of the same name, is very heart-wrenching, and there are some uncomfortable moments in the early stages. There is a very obvious inspiration (if you can call it that) to the tale of one Josef Fritzl. Yet despite the hardship and somewhat lack of space that the two of them do have those rare moments of joy and happiness between them, and these are a joy to watch as the audience is almost constantly reminded of the bleak reality of their situation, this is until they make a plan to escape their captivity. Director Lenny Abrahamson does a tremendous job of putting the audience in the position of our characters, you feel as though you are in these awful surroundings with them, and through brilliant camera work, he is able to provide new views on the tiny surroundings, quite incredible considering that it’s a very small shed.

The acting on show, particularly from our two main stars is tremendous. Brie Larson especially giving a career defining performance as the troubled mother. You really feel for her character and what she’s going through and it is heart breaking to watch her go through the torment of captivity. She has been picking up plenty of awards in this awards season and she stands every chance of adding the Academy Award to her collection. Young Jacob Tremblay is also fantastic in what is one of the best child performances in a long time. He’s convinced that “room” is all that exists in the world, that people on TV are not real, and his conviction is very real and tremendously powerful. Awards have come his way too, and like with his co-star, very well deserved ones at that.

The story has some very dark moments that could make Room uncomfortable viewing for some, and while it is a very impactful script, there a few things that are left unanswered or unexplained, things that you would have thought that they would have touched upon in a bit more detail. Nevertheless, the film remains a moving story to watch, with some tremendous acting and directing, and proves just how powerful the love a mother has for her child, no matter the desperate or horrific circumstances of a situation, is truly unbreakable.

Two very powerful performances anchor this incredible story, that is both heart-breaking and uplifting in equal measure

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