‘LUV,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


Sheldon Candis’ “LUV” is a rough coming-of-age tale that establishes Common as a rapper who could easily put his music career behind him and concentrate on acting.

It also introduces a young talent, Michael Rainey Jr., as his nephew, in a breakthrough role that theoretically could signal the start of a new career.

Not that Candis’ film, which played at Sundance 2012, comes together as a cohesive work. But it features enough tasty bits, enough moments of gritty inspiration and naked emotion, that it keeps you involved, even when it is taking wrong turns.

Common plays Vincent, just out of prison and living with his mother in Baltimore. She is taking care of his nephew, Woody (Rainey), who is on his way to school on the morning the film opens. Vincent gives him a ride – then calls an audible practically at the schoolhouse door. Instead of going to school, Woody is going to accompany Vincent to see how a man handles his business. They both get far more business than either bargained for.

Vincent has big ideas: He’s assembled a business plan for a crab shack in a building he plans to rehabilitate. All he needs is a small-business loan from the bank and he can get started.

But the banker with whom he meets points out a couple of potentially fatal flaws in Vincent’s plan – then notes that, in fact, his mother’s house, which he’s using as collateral, already has a second mortgage with a big payment due in just a couple of days. So Vincent must figure out how to find the money to meet the mortgage, so he can focus on his plans for the future.

This review continues on my website.

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