Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) FX Orders Comedy Pilot on Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene From & Starring Donald Glover FX Orders Comedy Pilot on Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene From & Starring Donald Glover Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rosario Dawson, Others Share Kisses in NY Times Shorts Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rosario Dawson, Others Share Kisses in NY Times Shorts What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends Here's the Character John Boyega Plays in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Here's the Character John Boyega Plays in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Watch Zendaya, Kadeem Hardison, Tammy Townsend in Trailer for 'K.C. Undercover' Watch Zendaya, Kadeem Hardison, Tammy Townsend in Trailer for 'K.C. Undercover' Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Beyond The Lights, Beyond The Urban Narrative: When Marketing Gets In The Way of Story Beyond The Lights, Beyond The Urban Narrative: When Marketing Gets In The Way of Story Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

LAFF 2012 Review: What 'LUV' Says About Manhood, or the Lack Thereof

Shadow and Act By Jasmin Tiggett | Shadow and Act June 21, 2012 at 5:03PM

Writer/director Sheldon Candis’ first feature is a gutsy Baltimore drama centered on 11-year-old Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.), a fatherless youth who gets a lesson in the hard-knock life from his hustler Uncle Vincent (Common).
3
LUV1

Writer/director Sheldon Candis’ first feature is a gutsy Baltimore drama centered on 11-year-old Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.), a fatherless youth who gets a lesson in the hard-knock life from his hustler Uncle Vincent (Common).

At the outset, Woody is living with his grandmother (Lonette McKee), longing to reunite with his estranged mother (Tracey Heggins), and is enamored with his Uncle Vincent, who’s just been released from an eight-year stretch in prison. Woody happily accepts a ride to school from Vincent one morning, only to be taken for an even wilder ride when his uncle decides Woody should instead spend the day on the streets with him. Vincent is trying to go straight by opening a legit business, a crab shack on the bay. But as with any crime drama, he can’t seem to shake his shady past. In order to raise the money to open the restaurant he finds himself having to call in a favor from his old boss, the one responsible for getting him locked up in the first place. A familiar story - “Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in.” This sets Vincent on a path of wheeling, dealing, and ever-increasing violence with his wide-eyed nephew at his side for it all - eventually, and quite unbelievably, picking up all the lessons learned from his uncle to become a sort of pint-sized gangster himself.

The acting is solid, led by a natural performance from the adorable Rainey. Veteran actors Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, and Charles S. Dutton appear as Vincent’s old criminal cohorts, along with Michael K. Williams as a detective. Still, the cast only somewhat saves the narrative, as the predictable plot points of a crime drama bear the implausible twist of having a child at the center of it all. Watching prepubescent Woody transform, within 24 hours, from an innocent kid to someone who can conduct a drug deal with the eerie calm of a seasoned criminal is a bit much to take and dilutes the film’s emotional impact.

Further, it all seems to send a troubling message about manhood – that superficial things like how to wear a tailored suit, how to lie and manipulate to get what you want, how to shoot a gun or have one aimed at you without flinching are, or should be, part of what makes one a man. True enough, one film about a specific set of characters shouldn’t necessarily reflect on all black men; but with precious few black bodies on screen to begin with, the reality is that it often does.

In the end, LUV is an ambitious first film that dares to tread in the same territory as The Wire and tell a new story. It has some wins with technically sound visuals and a strong cast, but falls a bit short in terms of story.


Shadow & ActNewsletter