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The Crack Magazine

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Luzzu

Director: Alex Camilleri

Stars: Jesmark Scicluna, Michela Farrugia, David Scicluna

Shades of Ken Loach in this involving and complex realist Maltese drama. Jesmark (Scicluna) is a fisherman struggling to support his wife Denise (Farrugia) and their new-born son. In the opening scene his boat ( or ‘luzzu’) springs a leak meaning expensive repair work is required. Shortly after, the family doctor announces that his son is having growth issues and requires costly treatment. He takes a job working on a fellow fisherman’s boat while attempting to raise the money. Feeling the weight of his financial problems Jesmark is disgusted when they accidentally catch a valuable swordfish, but must throw the dead fish back into the water as per fishing regulations. Desperate, and not wanting to accept an EU resettlement payout and sell the boat that has been in his family generations, or turn to Denice’s well-off but disproving mum for help, the proud Jesmark begins working for a local black market smuggler, all too aware of the effect the operation has on the local community and livelihoods. 

All the while the eyes painted on the front of Jesmark’s boat gaze on in silent judgement at the protagonist’s increasingly compromised decisions. Writer-director Camilleri elicits fine performances from his amateur cast while eschewing romanticising their lives. The oppressive grind is leavened with some fine sun-kissed photography and moments of poetry, such as a sequence in which a local priest tours the dock blessing the boats on a dazzling morning.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm

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