The Queer Narrative of Luca


Image via Slate

Hazel Smith, Writer

Luca is about two kids and their summer of self-discovery. It tells the story of escaping from the constraints and oppressions of society and accepting one’s self. 

The movie begins in beautiful, sun-kissed Italy with the introduction of the main character, Luca, who spends his life as a gilled sea monster- exploring the ocean or herding the smaller fish away from fishing boats. Luca’s curiosity brings him closer to the surface, despite his parent’s warnings. Arriving at the surface leads him to meet Alberto, another sea monster. Alberto has learned how to live on land and in the sea, and his adventurous ways inspire Luca to escape his boring life and learn how to be a human as well as a sea monster. The two strike up a close relationship, dreaming of traveling the world together. 

The plotline and characters hold potential for a queer storyline. Although the director, Enrico Casarosa, has stated that he did not intend for this movie to be about queer experiences, the film still resonates as a queer narrative. It is no secret that movies and shows, unfortunately, get criticized for including diverse stories. Many studios, especially Disney, have often been criticized for their lack of queer representation. There have been many opportunities to include queer storylines into their movies and shows, but the studio has failed to offer anything but side characters and one-liners. They have not succeeded in making strides towards queer storylines that are central to the plot and are written with dignity and respect. Other studios, including Laika and Pixar, have introduced LGBTQ+ characters into their stories. However, there are still little to no movies and shows with centrally queer themes. Therefore, it is important for queer audiences, and all audiences for that matter, to be able to see themselves and their experiences in media. A story like Luca can resonate with anyone who has felt out of place or different in their life. Specifically, as a queer narrative, Luca presents themes such as keeping things from your loved ones, exploring yourself, and hiding your true identity from an unaccepting society. These given themes are familiar to queer audiences, which is perhaps why the film has been noted by fans as a queer narrative. The relationship between Luca and Alberto also holds promise for the representation of young queer love and learning about who you are. Audiences can identify and relate to many of the experiences shown in the film, as well as the characters. 

They may see themselves in the character of Luca, who is desperate, although fearful, to escape the constraints of his life. Or perhaps in the character of Alberto, who has learned to accept himself for who he is, and has even begun to see it as a wonderful part of him. Parents of queer kids can see themselves through the eyes of Luca’s parents, who are fearful of the oppression and discrimination their son may experience if he were to be open about his identity. No matter which, if any, part of Luca resonates with an individual audience member, this magnificent story serves as a universal message about learning who you are and how you fit into the world.