‘Luca’ director Enrico Casarosa on having his film embraced by the LGBTQ community

Pixar’s latest film “Luca” stemmed from director Enrico Casarosa‘s own experiences growing up in Italy. Like Luca in his friendship with fellow sea monster-turned-human Alberto, Casarosa formed a close friendship with a boy — also named Alberto — who helped expand his world. The director took those childhood memories and formed a story about feeling different, to which many viewers have been able to relate. “There was something about the shame we feel when we’re growing up,” says Casarosa in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “Every day we change, every day we feel like monsters, there’s transformations in us.” Watch the full video chat above.

For longtime fans of Pixar, “Luca” is a step in a new direction, with a more painterly animation style and a smaller-scale plot. “We wanted to tell a little bit of a different, more intimate story,” explains Casarosa, “allowing it to be small, allowing it to really be about the relationships and we felt that it really needed a different look.” Some notable influences for the director included the emotive qualities of Hayao Miyazaki‘s films and the dreamlike atmosphere of Federico Fellini‘s oeuvre. The animators gave the film more of a 2D look, less realistic than some of Pixar’s other efforts but more expressionistic in depicting Luca’s emotions throughout the story.

It was important for Casarosa to depict a certain type of male friendship that isn’t often seen in film. There is a pure quality to Luca and Alberto’s relationship that is refreshing, free from the typical trappings of hard-edged or cynical masculinity. “Masculinity sometimes is portrayed as very stoic or tough and I think what’s lovely about Luca is that he’s very open,” observes Casarosa. “He’s very curious, he’s lonely, Alberto is lonely, and there’s just this very sweet masculinity that feels tender to me.”

It is for this reason that the LGBTQ community has latched onto “Luca” as representative of the queer experience. Casarosa is cognizant of how the sea monster metaphor, where Luca and Alberto harbor a shared secret about who they really are among the human world, creates a certain identifying aspect for many viewers. While he intended for the film to be about friendship more than anything else, he is “so happy that it’s embraced by all these different communities.”

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