Luzzu follows a Maltese fisherman named Jesmark struggling with his morality and commitment to his family and traditions as he is hampered financially by fishing regulations that constrain his ability to provide for his young baby. Alex Camilleri’s debut feature-length film is a fascinating and intriguing portrait of a man torn between his commitment to those who came before – his luzzo (colourful Maltese fishing boat) was his grandfather’s and has his painted footprint there from decades earlier – and those with whom he has a future – his young baby who has growth problems, and his partner who works tirelessly as a waitress.
The film accurately captures the tradition versus modernity debate in a riveting manner drenched in realism, as Jesmark – mostly reserved emotionally, but quick to anger when pressed about his support for his baby – forgoes the path laid out by his predecessors and turns to assisting a black market fishing operation that has its claws in local government and makes profit at the expense of other hardworking fishermen, men with whom Jesmark is more than well acquainted. Some of these men are even helping Jesmark rebuild his luzzo which is in dire need of repair, blanketing the film’s denouement in a morose sadness.
However, despite the immoral decisions Jesmark increasingly makes, he remains likeable as his decisions are forced by necessity rather than anything else and the desperation is palpable upon actor Jesmark Scicluna’s face. Ultimately, Luzzo is a desperately melancholic film about the lengths a man goes to provide for his family, even if that means disregarding family, friends and a way of life deemed irrelevant and outdated.
This review was written by Oli Gamble, member of the thatfilmbloguk team, American and Canadian Studies graduate, and co-host of the thatfilmbloguk podcast.