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Movie Review: The Story of Luke

April 19, 2013

The Story of Luke – A Gravitas Ventures ReleaseThe Story of Luke Poster

http://www.thestoryofluke.com

Release Date: April 5th, 2013 (on demand)

Rated PG for mature themes and language

Running time: 95 minutes

Alonso Mayo (dir.)

Alonso Mayo (writer)

Mateo Messina (music)

Lou Taylor Pucci as Luke

Seth Green as Zack

Cary Elwes as Paul

Kristin Bauer as Cindy

Tyler Stentiford as Brad

Mackenzie Munro as Megan

Kenneth Welsh as Jonas

Sabryn Rock as Maria

Dewshane Williams as Sam

Ann Holloway as “Angry” Betsy

The Story of Luke - Movie Stills 05

©Gravitas Ventures.  All Rights Reserved.

Grandpa Jonas (Kenneth Welsh) and Luke (Lou Taylor Pucci) in The Story of Luke.

Our reviews below:

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The Story of Luke Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Luke (Lou Taylor Pucci) is a young man on the autism spectrum, but he has the same hopes and dreams of pretty much everyone else his age, to hold down a job and find a girlfriend.  This is the basis of The Story of Luke, a touching and incredibly entertaining film about a young man’s journey into normal adulthood, even if it has taken him a little longer to get there.

At the start of the film, Luke is going to the funeral of his beloved Grandma Maggie.  After his mother abandoned him as a child, he was raised by his grandparents who homeschooled him right through to graduation.  But now that his Grandpa Jonas (Kenneth Welsh) is succumbing to dementia, and the house where he was raised is being sold, the only place for Luke to live is with his Aunt Cindy (Kristin Bauer) and Uncle Paul (Cary Elwes), along with his teenage cousins Brad (Tyler Stentiford) and Megan (Mackenzie Munro).  But he is determined to help himself and find a job, just like other “boys his age.”

Luke goes to a local job agency where he develops a crush on the receptionist Maria (Sabryn Rock), and these moments are shot with a feeling of incredible importance, because we get the sense that this is the first time he has ever really been out on his own.  He is given a job placement at a computer firm run under the supervision of Zack (Seth Green), a loudmouthed young man with neurological differences of his own.  Zack has been out of the social spotlight for so long, that he feels the need to tear Luke down before helping him back up again, and the two change each other in unexpected ways.

Lou Taylor Pucci is excellent in the leading role, delivering a multilayered and incredibly believable performance.  His character is honest to a fault in the way that he repeats back what he has been told, and the vocal intonations and changing inflections that he brings to the role are spot on.  This is a performance that ranks among the great portrayals of people on the autism spectrum.  Seth Green brings surprising nuance to his performance, adding another interesting layer of perspective to the film.  There isn’t a weak link in the supporting cast.  Kenneth Welsh, Kristin Bauer and Cary Elwes also get their moments to shine.

The screenplay by director Alonso Mayo doesn’t hit a wrong note in the way that it shows the positive effects that Luke has on pretty much everyone around him.  There are just so many wonderful and touching moments throughout The Story of Luke, as the film builds with a perfect mix of both comedy and drama towards a bittersweet final scene.  This is a small film that is highly recommended.

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The Story of Luke Review by Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

The Story of Luke is about a 25 year old man named Luke (Lou Taylor Pucci), who happens to have mild autism.  When Luke’s grandmother passes away, he and his aging grandfather (Kenneth Welsh) go to live with Luke’s aunt (Kristin Bauer), uncle (Cary Elwes), and two teenage cousins.  The adjustment is hard on everyone, and the grandfather is soon moved to a nursing home, but no one quite knows what to do with Luke.

Luke on the other hand, wants to do as his grandfather told him, and find a job and a nice girl (who doesn’t nag and likes to travel).  After his cousin Megan (Mackenzie Munro) suggests he look through the newspaper for jobs, Luke finds himself an intern at a tech company, with another eccentric individual as his supervisor – Zach (Seth Green).  This makes for a fascinating interaction when these two are on screen, because while they share similarities and on some level understand each other, they are also polar opposites, with Luke’s quiet and positive personality clashing with Zach’s more explosive and negative stance.

The interactions between Luke and his family members are also very well done, with all the main characters coming to understand Luke in their own way.  The characters here are very well formed, each having their own believable reasons for being how they are.

As the story evolves, it is always a pleasure to watch on screen, with just the right mix of drama and comedic moments.  The dialogue is very well written, and the performances are perfect.  Whether you have taken note of the film for its subject matter (autism) or not, it is one worth seeking out, as a story of someone finding their place in the world and a small indie that proves very worthwhile.

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The Story of Luke Review by Nicole

**** (out of 4)

The Story of Luke is heartwarming, charming and funny.  Set in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the film revolves around a 25 year old man as he tries to find work.  The titular character, Luke (Lou Taylor Puccu) also has autism, and has spent years living with his grandparents in a relatively sheltered life.

But when his Grandma Maggie dies, his straight talking Grandpa Jonas (Kenneth Welsh) reminds him that, at 25, he needs a job and perhaps even a girlfriend.  But when Grandpa Jonas has to move to a nursing home after showing signs of dementia, Luke moves in with his Aunt Cindy (Kristin Baur), Uncle Paul (Cary Elwes) and cousins Megan (Mackenzie Munro) and Brad (Tyler Stentiford).  His cousins embrace him like a brother, accepting his absurdity while treating him as an intelligent adult.

When Luke asks where he can find a job, Megan shows him the classified section of the local paper.  So he visits an employment agency, where he notices the pretty receptionist, Maria (Sabryn Rock).  Luke immediately takes a liking to Maria, and he hopes to land a job so he can impress her.  The employment agency directs him to Click and Easy, a computer firm led by an angry bully named Zack (Seth Green).

Zack has little tolerance for people with developmental challenges, and Luke is no exception.  However the affable, optimistic and kindly Luke is the first person to stand up to Zack and his oppositional behaviour.  It turns out that Zack may have more in common with Luke than meets the eye, and their encounters may benefit them both.

The Story of Luke portrays autism in a believable way.  Luke is intelligent, empathetic and very polite, shattering the stereotype of the antisocial loner.  His relationship with his grandfather is poignant and sweet.  Luke understands his Grandpa’s needs, whether emotional or physical.  He is caring towards his entire family, in ways that could serve as a positive role model for many young adults these days.

Luke is contrasted by Zack, a man who shares many of his challenges, yet deals with them by being rude, volatile and antisocial.  The biggest difference between the two men is that Zack rejects being different in a neurotypical world, and he accomplishes this by considering everyone else as inferior.  He is clearly depressed; he displays his self loathing by attacking anyone in his path, with a special dislike toward people with similar or greater challenges to his own.  Zack has given up.  He figures he doesn’t understand other people, so he won’t even try.

Luke, on the other hand, accepts being autistic.  Luke tries his best to be kind and understanding of other people.  When he makes a social mistake, he learns from it and tries even harder next time.  Luke’s selflessness and optimism help him to move past many of his challenges, allowing him to slowly integrate as an autist in a neurotypical society.  The interactions between Luke and Zack make for a very fascinating character study.

The Story of Luke is an intelligent, inspiring and very moving film.  It reminds everyone, whether autistic or neurotypical, that the most important thing in life is to accept yourself, and care about the people around you.

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The Story of Luke Review by Maureen

**** (out of 4)

Luke (Lou Taylor Pucci) is 25 years old.  He wants a job and a girlfriend, “like other boys his age.”  Luke also has autism.  The Story of Luke is about a young man whose quiet, predictable life is turned upside down when his beloved Grandma Maggie dies and Grandpa Jonas (Kenneth Welsh) moves into a nursing home.  With nowhere else to go, Luke moves in with relatives, his Aunt Cindy (Kristin Baur) and Uncle Paul (Cary Elwes) and cousins Megan (Mackenzie Munro) and Brad (Tyler Stentiford).

Having been raised and homeschooled by his grandparents, moving in with a busy, neurotypical family is an adjustment for Luke.  If he ever wants to live on his own, Luke knows he’ll first need a job, and a girlfriend would also be nice.  The Story of Luke is charming and believable.  Lou Taylor Pucci is wonderful as the quiet, well-mannered, autistic and job-seeking young man.  His determination to improve his life on his own terms is touching and inspiring.

Luke’s first encounter with the reality of meeting his goals takes place when he makes his way to an employment agency and meets the receptionist, Maria (Sabryn Rock) who Luke finds very attractive.  He figures if he wants to impress Maria, he must have a job.  Luke is sent over to a job agency specializing in placements for special needs clients, and from there ends up in a work placement at Click and Easy.  His new boss is the owner’s son, Zack (Seth Green), a loudmouthed bully who clearly has neurological issues of his own.

It’s interesting to see the growth that Luke experiences as he deals with all the new people in his life.  His autism is always present, but he still manages to move forward in a way that is true to his own strengths and limitations.  Luke is a likeable young man who through his own determination and the support of those around him, has the same potential for a happy and fulfilling life as anyone else.

Set in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, The Story of Luke has a quiet Canadian feel to it.  The characters are all believable, with Lou Taylor Pucci doing a particularly nice job of portraying a young man on the autism spectrum in a positive and hopeful manner.  This is a wonderful film worth seeking out.

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The Story of Luke Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

The Story of Luke begins with the 25 year old autistic title character (Lou Taylor Pucci) attending the funeral of his grandmother, who raised and homeschooled him after his mother abandoned him at four years of age. Luke and his grandfather Jonas (Kenneth Welsh) are taken in by Luke’s uncle Paul (Cary Elwes) and his dysfunctional family, Cindy (Kristin Bauer) and their two teenage kids, who all have very low expectations  for either of them. Jonas is quickly shipped off to an old folks home, but not before telling Luke it is time for him to be a man, both by supporting himself and seeking relationships with women.

Despite his challenges, Luke is determined to succeed, and he finds an entry level office position under the supervision of the also autistic IT specialist and boss’s son Zack (Seth Green). Though Zack is as mean as Luke is sweet, he decides to help Luke interact with NTs (neurotypical humans), using a creepy app he has developed employing avatars that respond to body language. Though Luke risks rejection on both counts, he gets up the courage to ask someone out and also visit his birth mother. It is a tribute to his character, along with a flair for cooking, that Luke manages to improve the lives of everyone he meets.

Shot in Sault Ste. Marie, ON, with an excellent largely Canadian cast, The Story of Luke is a sensitive portrayal of a very decent young man who happens to be different. Writer/director Alonso Mayo grew up with autistic kids and the leading actor spent time with young adults at various levels on the autistic spectrum to develop a character that would strike the right balance between eccentricity and caricature. Though Luke’s frequent gaffes are very funny, the story is always very realistic, ending on a hopeful note.

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Consensus: With an excellent performance from Lou Taylor Pucci who believably portrays a young man with autism, The Story of Luke is an entertaining and incredibly touching film that has an excellent screenplay by director Alonso Mayo.  **** (Out of 4)

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