Review: Luce and the Rock

Written and directed by Britt Raes, Luce lives a happy life in a peaceful little village, together with Mom and the Villagers. Every day is the same, and that’s the way everyone likes it, until one day a giant rock creature destroys all the houses. Luce is angry and determined to take the rock creature back to his home.

Right from the get go the style, tone and entire atmosphere of Luce and the Rock is undeniably cute. It’s filled with a sense of the simplicity of childhood happiness, contentment is Luce making a tiny pile of rocks which fills your heart to see. Britt Raes then balances that with Luce’s fear of the dark and how she’s comforted by her little light sticks. The use of light is done in an extremely clever way with changing colours rather than trying to create darkness and light in the traditional way.

It also leans heavily into using shapes, making itself lovingly cartoonish and fantasy styled with its angles and curves. There’s something to it that’s reminiscent of old-fashioned children’s television like The Moomins, Clangers and a touch of Pingu. That gives it a sweetly nostalgic feel which is only improved by the compassionate, curious nature of the story. On top of dipping into the feel of folktales with its troll-esque rock creature.

Luce’s determination to return her newfound friend to his home is delightful to watch. There’s a great mix of feeling from fear and anger to kindness and generosity. It’s almost akin to a Belgian BFG, as well as working quite nicely as a metaphor for if you take care of nature, it will take care of you. It has a gigantic heart which it makes abundantly clear from the start and makes it a joy to watch.

It’s topped with a score which again hits that nostalgic note, with a classic adventure feel. It’s bouncy and warm, keeping a lightness throughout. Choosing to mostly avoid dialogue was a great choice which not only helps the emotion to come through more strongly but also reflects trying to understand people of another language. It heightens the already powerful kindness and compassion that’s running through the story. Additionally it adds a few nods in there about using your ingenuity, which is always nice to see and sends a good message.

Luce and the Rock is absolutely adorable, charming and a genuine pleasure to watch. It throws back to the wholesome simplicity of 20th century children’s television, creating a style that’s elegantly scaled back yet cleverly done. It’s bursting with colour but instead of purely creating a fun visual, it’s also used distinctly to help tell the story. Britt Raes has created an extremely well crafted short both in writing and direction which is beautifully heart-warming to watch.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯✯ | 10/10

Reviewed as part of Glasgow Short Film Festival 2023

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