Both are set in sun-drenched Italy and feature male leads exploring the Italian countryside, sharing gelato, riding around together, and generally growing closer. Both are also coming-of-age stories whose protagonists hide a deeply-held secret from friends and family.
So strong was the gay reaction to Luca that the film’s director, Enrico Casarosa, was forced to go on record last year and say that it was about friendship, not romance. Indeed, he said that romance was “never really in our plans.”
Well, now it turns out that wasn’t entirely true.
Speaking to The Wrap this week, Casarosa was again asked about the LGBTQ response to Luca, specifically about potential romance between its protagonists, Luca and Alberto.
“We talked about it,” Casarosa revealed, “and I mean, I think the reason probably we didn’t talk about it as much and, to a certain degree, we’re slightly surprised by the amount of people talking about romance is that we were really focusing on friendship and so pre-romance.”
He continued: “But it is a kind of love, right? There’s a lot of hugging and it’s physical and my experience as a straight man certainly wasn’t that.”
Casarosa noted that the film does nod to the “othering” of LGBTQ people through Luca‘s central plot: Luca and Alberto are sea creatures who transform into humans when out of water.
“The things we did talk a lot about is what is the metaphor here for being a sea monster, for being different?” Casarosa said.
Casarosa, who took inspiration for Luca from his own childhood in Italy where he and his friends were “geeks, losery,” pointed to the “many different ways as kids we can feel like outsiders.”
He told The Wrap that it was “wonderful and even more powerful” that the LGBTQ community was responding to Luca, given they have “felt so much of as an outsider, right, where this is so real and stronger than my experience, I’m sure to have to grow up with that kind of a difference.”
“I love that the metaphor is reading in all these different ways,” Casarosa said.
Metro Weekly‘s Randy Shulman gave Luca four stars in his review, calling it a “tale as old as time about the joys and endurance of true friendship, as well as acceptance.”
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