What is a fishing community if restrictions deny their catch? The world continues to change no matter what anyone does. Camilleri understands that dilemma and puts it on film with humble clarity.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Camilleri captures the beauty of Malta in Luzzu. He shows us the island, the sea, the colorful traditional boats with faces painted on the front, and the glamour of sunset over the ocean. He also shows us life there can be destructively difficult for people trying to make it on the low end, as they struggle to maintain their traditions and pride while the world changes around them.
It's a heartbreaking, but clear-eyed look at the last gasp of a dying industry, and a man whose whole identity, whole livelihood gets shattered by a force beyond his comprehension.
Naturalistic and a bit on-the-nose in spots, the film is also a moving tale of real-world strife — a sort of low-key, contemporary take on Visconti’s neorealist classic La Terra Trema, with EU officials and regulations undoing seafaring practices that have existed for generations.
Luzzu is a slender, rather bleak but tough, rough-cut little jewel that deserves your time and attention.
A simple, yet beautiful film due to this sense of place, Luzzu highlights a story that’s rooted in tradition and particularity. At times, rushed in its quest to find a central conflict, the film finds Camilleri crafting a coarse story, one void of laughs, jokes, or levity.
Malta’s views are arresting, but the images Camilleri chooses would never be found in a travel brochure. In his subtle, vérité approach, he captures something special — not one man’s crisis, but a community’s culture.
Luzzu is beautifully shot, if at times emotionally restrained, in its centering around a man who’s occasionally hard to read. But it boast a true discovery in the casting of Jesmark Scicluna, a real fisherman who plays a version of himself, and here playing a struggling parent trying to eke out a living along the docks.
The impressive feature debut from Maltese-American writer and director Alex Camilleri manages to be both self-contained, in its depiction of an embattled community, but also unexpectedly far-reaching in its themes. The film is an exploration of masculinity in crisis, of the attrition of traditions by the forces of progress and of the agonies and uncertainties of new parenthood.
Alex Camilleri’s most significant departures from his influences take place on the level of content, but, thankfully, they strain the integrity of the neorealist framework just enough to keep Luzzu fresh, if not revolutionary.