A scene from "The Story of Luke." (Handout )
The debut feature from writer-director Alonso Mayo, "The Story of Luke" is about a young man who is grappling with autism and the first steps toward independent living.
Having long lived with his grandparents, Luke (Lou Taylor Pucci) is abruptly placed with other relatives (Cary Elwes, Kristin Bauer) who don't exactly know what to do with him. Luke is set on a course of self-discovery that he has always been made to feel was beyond him. In the lead role, Pucci, always a thoughtful, compelling actor (he can also be seen in a very different role in the new "Evil Dead") brings an intriguing sense of curiosity and wonder to the part, albeit underlaid with a certain confusion and sadness.
Mayo's script avoids turning Luke into some wise holy fool, allowing him to make missteps along the way. How accurately the film depicts autism — "I defy clinical categorization," Luke likes to say — may be better debated elsewhere, but Mayo's film presents a series of circumstances and conditions that are plausible. "The Story of Luke" is not a saga of epic proportions, but with a huge assist from Pucci's layered performance, takes a premise that could easily be movie-of-the-week sappy and finds a humanizing lightness. Luke isn't defined by his place on the autism spectrum, rather he is a person on that spectrum, doing the best he can like anyone else.
"The Story of Luke." Not rated. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. Playing: At the Laemmle Music Hall.