Luzzu Movie Review
A man debates giving up his colorful little fishing boat so his child can get special medical treatment in the poignant drama Luzzu, the feature debut from Alex Camilleri. Small and simple in scope, Luzzu nonetheless has entrancing qualities that draw you into the hardships facing a family on Malta.
Jesmark Scicluna gives a strong performance as the quiet, struggling father--billed as Jesmark--a man beholden to his ancestors’ way of life even as modern day demands something different. He continues to fish as his livelihood even as supplies dwindle, income remains inconsistent, and the Maltese government seeks to buy out his friends and colleagues to encourage a change in career.
The driving force for Jesmark, of course, is his wife (Michela Farrugia) and especially his child, whose medical demands suddenly disrupt his way of life. You feel for the man, even if most of his life up until this point has underdelivered for his family. Giving up on his livelihood means giving up on his father’s way of life, exemplified through the small, colorful boat that seemingly deteriorates as quickly as he can patch it. You understand his anguish, even if you want to shake him into the reality of modern times.
Jesmark turns to the black market to make ends meet, and it’s in this stretch that Luzzu doesn’t entirely work. Perhaps Camilleri intended to shrug his shoulders at this development as if to say “this is no big deal,” but the decision to start operating underground seems to be such a minor development it introduces no sense of conflict, risk, or threat to the story. To the point you wonder why any of it is in the film. A more interesting direction would have been to push our protagonist to something more off-putting and out of his comfort zone.
Luzzu, when all is said and done, begins to feel a bit slight, and yet throughout, there is something captivating about it all. From Scicluna’s nuanced performance to Camilleri’s straightforward-yet-lovely direction, Luzzu tells a relatable story that has power, even when it appears not to.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.