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Thursday, October 21, 2021

‘Luzu’ review: Capturing culture off the coast of Malta

In the natural drama “Luzu”, Jessmark (Jesmark Scicluna) spends the day bobbing and fishing in the bright ocean waters off the coast of Malta. Although fisheries are few and money is tight, Jessmark has passed on his trade and pleasure to the painted luzu – or quaint wooden fishing boat – through his ancestral lineage for generations. But once he and his wife Denise (Michelle Farrugia) learn that their newborn son is in need of expensive medical care, Jessmark must negotiate his loyalty to fishing and the demands of the modern world.

As a character, Jessmark is familiar. He is strong, sad and stubborn, a zealous worker whose working-class upbringing left him with a strong moral code and a chip on his shoulder. Fights with Dennis or his fishing buddy David (David Scicluna) often end in a flurry at Jessmark. Eventually, his stiff upper lip becomes tiring, and our hero’s slow road to redemption becomes less important than the people and settings around him. Here, Maltese American writer-director Alex Camilleri excels.

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In “Luzu”, her first feature film, Camilleri demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of how small moments can create a sense of place: sandals on the salty floor of a fishery; a metal scraper peeling paint off a hull; A priest blesses the boats for a safe passage. The views from Malta are arresting, but the images chosen by Camilleri will never be found in a travel brochure. In his subtle, truthful approach, he captures something special – not the crisis of an individual, but the culture of a community.

luzu
not evaluated. In Maltese and English, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes. in Theaters.

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