Jon Natchez | Luzzu
May 6th 2022
“Stirringly nuanced and dazzlingly humanistic…an unaffected triumph with a simmering power”
Los Angeles Times
“A new benchmark in Malta’s little-heralded film industry.”
LA composer and musician Jon Natchez (The War On Drugs, Beirut, David Byrne, St. Vincent) scores stunning, award-winning Maltese independent movie Luzzu for Phantom Limb’s Geist im Kino soundtrack imprint.
Maltese screenwriter and director Alex Camilleri’s glorious Luzzu sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. “All submerged,” writes Carlos Aguilar for the Los Angeles Times, “in Jon Natchez’s enrapturing score.” Composed for strings, flutes, clarinets, brass, synthesiser and the masterful harp of acclaimed artist Mary Lattimore, Natchez’s work for Luzzu celebrates, reflects, and glues together the gritty, loving agony of Camilleri’s staggering directorial debut.
The film tells the story of a young fisherman struggling under the scorching Maltese sun. He battles the sea’s diminishing returns, his newborn son’s illness, his partner’s judgemental family, and the slow death of a tradition his family has practised for generations. As money worries tighten their grip, Jesmark - magnificently portrayed by undiscovered nonprofessional actor Jesmark Scicluna - finds himself caught between morality and tradition, survival and responsibility. Camilleri’s screenwriting is challenging and potent, his portrait of rural Malta alive with vibrancy and colour.
Jon Natchez’s soundtrack expertly interweaves these themes. Barely-whispered woodwind chords light up dusty trails of synthesis. Propulsive percussive layers chatter with heady Mediterranean clamour. Mary Lattimore’s harp peeks out from clouds of sunwashed strings. In one profoundly stirring scene, the local priest wordlessly blesses the multitude of tiny, solo fishing vessels (the luzzu of the movie’s title) heading out for the day’s catch, guarding them against the tempers of the sea as he rows from one boat the next. Natchez makes the sequence both intense and tender with gently flowering Baroquish melodies.