Luca movie cast: Tovino Thomas, Ahaana Krishna
Luca movie director: Arun Bose
Luca rating: 3 stars
Luca (Tovino Thomas) is a free-spirited young man living a vibrant life in Kochi. He is a gifted artist who is better at conveying his emotions through pencil sketches, plastic arts and a wide range of oil colours. His artistic life provides a convincing backdrop for his disorderly lifestyle. But there is more to him than meets the eye.
Luca is terrified by the future. He is in a constant battle with death. And he’s not just a poor mortal who is vainly challenging the inevitability of the end of life. He’s a highly-skilled, potent enemy of death. Through his work of art, he preserves life by creating a representation of it.
Movies have been made in the past in which the protagonists with a terminal illness understand the importance of living in the moment and cherish every second before their date with death. A popular example is Kal Ho Naa Ho, which is Hindi for ‘tomorrow may never come.’ The protagonist in the Bollywood film knows that he’s definitely going to die soon and tries to keep everyone in his social circle as happy as he could for the remainder of his time on earth. The feel-good element of the film overshadows its heavy subject which is death. And on the other extreme, we have Walter White from Breaking Bad, who sets loose the darkest side of his personality and wreaks havoc after being diagnosed with cancer. And we almost forget about his cancer.
Luca, the movie, reacts to the concept of death in a different way. Its reaction to its subject is very real: it’s suffering. It never lets us off the hook as it keeps reminding us about its ominous theme. The protagonist in the film neither becomes a do-gooder increasing his Karma points or turn into a drug kingpin and start killing people. Luca, the protagonist, suffers from the constant fear of death that lingers atop the human race like the sword of Damocles.
Luca’s spiritual battle with death, however, may miss your attention, if you are more interested in an ongoing whodunit.
The movie opens with the death of Luca. He has poison in his body and enough reasons to end his own life. But, a curious cop Akbar Hussein (Nithin George) is not willing to close the case as his gut-feeling says there is something off about the case. And his investigation takes us into the memory of Niharika (Ahaana Krishna), who has documented her life in a dairy. She is also dead and her case is closed as suicide.
When we see Luca, he has no incurable illness that is waiting to claim his life. He is a healthy, fit and creative person with bad temperament. But he is petrified by all things dead. A lifeless fish in the market is enough to send him on a downward spiral. If he sees someone’s dead body or meets those who attempted suicide, he is pushed to the edge of a meltdown. He has a condition called Thanatophobia, which invokes extreme reactions in him when he counters death.
Luca’s phobia began when he woke up to see his father hanging from the ceiling over his bed. And later, his condition worsens when he suddenly loses his mother to an unexpected disease. His practice of plastic arts is what keeping him from falling into complete insanity.
Director Arun Bose has extracted an adorable and very relatable performance from Tovino Thomas and Ahaana Krishna. Both of them have an omnipresence in the film. We stay in the memory of Niharika even as we see the story unfolding in the present.
Co-written by Arun Bose and Mridul George, the crossover film uses the investigative angle only to give Akbar a legitimate reason to read Niharika’s personal diary. But, it’s not as much a murder mystery as it is about love, art, suffering, relationships and death. Luca’s graffiti on a wall reads: Existence Is Resistance. Here he is not just protesting against mortals in power but also death itself.