What’s a luzzu? A traditional Maltese fishing boat, an opalescent vessel bedecked in polychromatic hues with two eyes poking out from the bow. Alex Camilleri’s Luzzu is a modern day neorealist masterpiece. Alone, in a sea of nowhere, Jesmark (Jesmark Scicluna) carefully unloops a net in the water that is brighter than the lives of the characters it presents. The craft belonged to his father and grandfather before him. The baby’s footprint stamped next to the wheel belongs to Jesmark. It’s his hope that someday his newborn son will follow in dad’s footstep. For that to happen, two things must first be healed: his boat the Tu Palma, and his baby. Keeping the boat in drydock for however long it takes to repair a cracked hull is nothing compared to the level of stress that awaits Jesmark and his wife Denise’s (Michela Farrugia) visit to the family pediatrician. The boy isn’t growing properly and needs a specialist that his parents can’t afford. His job as a fisherman doesn’t reel in enough capital to provide for a family, and the thought of Denise relying on her mother as a source of income angers the routinely hotheaded Jesmark. Just as De Sica’s thief stole a bicycle to provide for his family, Jesmark finds himself perfectly suited for a career in the black market. The film goes exactly where one doesn’t expect. Characters doubling-back on each other supply the action; the only weapon in the piece is a knife used to cut nets. Jesmark lives a life of “us against them” until the tides turn and he becomes one of them. His transformative voyage of discovery ends with our hero literally following doctor’s orders. He’s a better man for it. And you will be, too. (2021) — Scott Marks

Rated NR | 1 hour, 34 minutes
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