Saturday, June 16, 2012

LAFF 2012: LUV

Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.) and Vincent (Common) in Luv.
Knowing pains

By John Esther

Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.) is a smart yet typical 11-year-old kid who happens to live with his grandmother (Lonette McKee) and Uncle Vincent (Common) in Baltimore while Woody's mother gets her act together down south.

Rather than take him to school as promised, one Friday morning Vincent decides to teach Woody some “real-worlds shit” by letting his nephew accompany his recently paroled uncle -- who happens to have a nice Mercedes -- for the day. Commencing as an exciting adventure with Woody getting some new clothes and later learning how to drive the Mercedes, the film takes on an increasingly grave tone when Vincent is told by his bank (where, if my memory serves me well, we see the one white person in the film) to come up with $22,000 by Monday morning or Vincent will lose his new business venture.

School is out. Woody is no longer learning math or playing ball for fun on the school playground, but rather garnering an understanding of the intricate, cutthroat lifestyle of American entrepreneurship -- a la Baltimore criminal underworld -- which forces him to play for keeps.

“America is not a country, it’s a corporation,” we are told. While co-writer/director Sheldon Candis and co-writer Justin Wilson’s screenplay could have benefitted from a few more drafts (or at least a little more sobriety), the acting in Luv – which also features Charles S. Dutton Danny Glover and Dennis Haybert – makes the skinny script more palatable.

The LAFF screening is free.

Luv screens at the Los Angeles Film Festival June 17, 6:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas.

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