LFF 2021: Luzzu – Review

Release Date – 27th May 2022, Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 34 minutes, Director – Alex Camilleri

Struggling fisherman Jesmark (Jesmark Scicluna) gets involved in black market operations as his work faces increasing restrictions and pressures, limiting him from providing for his wife (Michela Farrugia) and child.

“Without a boat you lose your way” are the words that cement the connection that struggling fisherman Jesmark (Jesmark Scicluna) has with his work. While dedicated to what he does, and certainly making sure to maintain the quality of his small, brightly-coloured boat, he finds himself facing increasing restrictions. He finds what he does caught up in a swirling mixture of political rules and phrases that simply make things harder for him as he already tries to compete with various firms and larger boats. With his wife, Denise (Michela Farrugia) and a newborn son to provide for there needs to be consistent money brought in, however anything but that appears to be making its way into the cramped living space in which they all live. It’s here that Jesmark begins to risk it all as he enters into a world of black market operations to desperately provide for his family.

The central character’s hopes and connection to his own boat are certainly still kept in mind. He’s willing to go down with what he does, there’s nothing else that he can do, he’s not qualified. “This is my Titanic. My home” he explains. Much of these feelings are brought about thanks to the excellent central performance given by Scicluna. Bringing you into the film and the unfolding dramas that are faced over the course of the short 94 minute run-time. You see the determination on his face as he desperately resorts to such measures to keep his family going, yet mixed with regret and reluctance as he feels uncertainty as to what he’s actually got himself caught up in.

Writer-director Alex Camilleri takes the viewer through the film with generally simple execution. However, there’s enough present to keep your engaged throughout. There are effective beats and moments of detail that certainly help to land an emotional response from the viewer, not always down to just Scicluna’s performance, some simply down to the simple sound of the area and the connection that’s established between them and the central character as he finds it hard to leave the working life he’s always known. And many of these moments have their impact because of just what is established in the early stages of the piece, keeping the viewer’s attention as the film runs with such points and ideas for most of its run-time; managing to be consistent in not dropping them.

The close may bring about what feels like a couple of different endings, which begin to feel slightly dragged out, but for most of Luzzu there feels little that’s repeated. There’s certainly a connection to the drama for both the audience and the well-performed central figure as he tries to fight to bring in money for his family amongst his increasingly struggling and isolated worklife. Most of the dramas at play are fairly simplistic, but they’re handled well and help to keep those watching in place. Engaged in what’s unfolding and with a sense of thought and emotion for the central character and the finely established connection that he has to his work, and indeed the boat which helps him just about continue with it, that he has dedicated himself to as much as he is to his family.

While simplistic in execution there’s an easy connection formed with Luzzu, thanks to the strong central performance of Jesmark Scicluna, it brings you in and keeps you in place for the unfolding dramas of confliction which emphasise the restrictions and isolation faced by the central character in the work he cares so much for.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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