Siegel™’s review published on Letterboxd:
So this is about Plato's allegory of the cave, right? A child kept under an oppressively sheltered worldview of archaic mythical conceptions, and taught that everything outside of that boundary of knowledge is forbidden and dangerous. He's literally kept down by the pressure of the entire ocean; he has nightmares about trying to escape but the water won't break, the psychological boundaries in place are too strong. When he meets someone with a more open worldview, he is suddenly overcome with the burning desire to explore, but every attempt to rise above the surface is thwarted by his own fear and insecurity, and guilt and shame that's been instilled in him his whole life. He wants so badly to leave, but he knows that if he does so he's potentially leaving everything behind, all his family and friends and the community he felt a part of.
Only when Alberto teases him a bit, showing him the possibility of creating new friendships and a glimpse at a positive future apart from the ideas of his past, is he able to work up the courage to leave the cave - or, in this case, the water - and enter untethered into the rest of the world. Once the shadows of his past subside, he almost immediately becomes enamored with the wonders of scientific discovery and pursuits of knowledge that had previously been forbidden to him.
Luca feels like a Pixar throwback in that it conveys its ideas through a story rather than a story through ideas. It's almost like a Ghibli film, a relaxed time with a setting that feels alive, and though there's always the imminent threat of being caught, that sense if danger is designed to keep even its most laid back moments spirited and lively. The stakes are low and the sense of adventure is high, and it's just a fun White Boy Summer in the sun.