When Pixar first released the trailer for the animated film Luca, LGBTQ viewers quickly noted more than a few similarities to the Oscar-winning gay drama Call me by your name.
Both are set in sunny Italy and feature men exploring the Italian countryside, sharing ice cream, riding together, and generally getting closer. Both are also coming of age stories where the protagonists are hiding a deeply buried secret from friends and family.
The homosexual reaction was so strong Luca that the film’s director, Enrico Casarosa, was forced to record last year and say it was about friendship, not romance. Indeed, he said romance was “never really on our plans.”
Well, now it turns out that wasn’t quite true.
Speaking to The Wrap this week, Casarosa was again asked about the LGBTQ response to Luca, especially on the potential romance between its protagonists, Luca and Alberto.
“We talked about it,” Casarosa revealed, “and I mean, I think the reason why we probably haven’t talked about it as much and, to some extent, we’re slightly surprised at how many people talk about romance is that we really focus on friendship and therefore pre-romance.
He continued, “But it’s kind of love, isn’t it? There’s a lot of hugging and it’s physical and my experience as a straight guy was definitely not that.
Casarosa noted that the film nods to the “otherness” of LGBTQ people through LucaThe central plot of: Luca and Alberto are sea creatures who transform into humans when they are out of the water.
“The things we’ve talked about a lot is what’s the metaphor here for being a sea monster, for being different?” Said Casarosa.
Casarosa, who was inspired to Luca from his own childhood in Italy, where he and his friends were “geeks, duds”, pointed out “a lot of different ways, as children, of feeling like strangers”.
He told The Wrap it was “wonderful and even more powerful” for the LGBTQ community to respond Luca, given that they “felt so much like an outsider, didn’t you, where it’s so real and stronger than my experience, I’m sure I have to grow up with that kind of difference.”
“I love that the metaphor reads all of these different ways,” Casarosa said.
Weekly metroRandy Shulman donated Luca four stars in its review, calling it “a tale as old as time of the joys and endurance of true friendship, as well as of acceptance.”
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