Saturday, June 8, 2013


Directed by Sheldon Candis.
2012. Rated R, 94 minutes.
Michael Rainey Jr.
Michael Kenneth Williams
Russell Hornsby
Hayward Armstrong

When all of your partners in crime know that you received a twenty year prison sentence, yet you’re home in eight, they’re going to be suspicious of you. This is just one of the issues Vincent (Common) has. As far as he’s concerned, it’s a small one. He’s much more focused on going straight. He wants to open up his own crab shack. To so, he’s trying to secure a $150,000 loan, legitimately. With his mother’s blessing he’s going to use her house as collateral. It’s Friday morning and he’s headed to the bank to get the verdict. On his way, he’s supposed to drop off his ten year old nephew Woody (Rainey Jr.) at school. After an unsatisfactory chat with the lad, he decides to take Woody with him and show him how business is handled. At the bank, he finds out mom’s house is $22,000 in arrears and about to go into foreclosure, obviously making a loan out of the question. However, with assurances he’ll be approved if he gets the money by Monday, he sets out to raise the capital the only way he knows how. Vincent, with Woody in tow, confronting the trust issues of his former colleagues ensues.

More than once on these pages I've noted I’m a fan of Common’s music, not his acting. That’s not the case, here. For the first time, he delivers a truly compelling performance. He really inhabits the role, bringing his character fully to life in a three dimensional manner. Vincent is not only the center of attention, Common helps him command that attention. Most impressively, he still shines when sharing the screen with such thespians as Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, and a super slick Dennis Haysbert, who sells something that definitely isn't car insurance. This is a leap forward in the evolution of Common as an actor. Of course, it helps that he has such a layered character to play. This is a guy who has obviously made some bad life decisions. He’s in the midst of another terrible choice, but his grand scheme includes a justifiable end. We root for him.

However, we don’t root for Vincent entirely because we want him to succeed. We just want his nephew to be okay. We hope Woody can somehow gleam the best from the often questionable lessons his uncle is giving. We fear it’s all too much for him. We pray that whatever’s next isn't. As good as Common is in his role, Michael Rainey Jr. stays with him step-for-step. Though asked to do some grown-up things we never get the sense we’re watching a small adult like in many other movies. He seems like a real kid, albeit one who grows up rapidly. His scenes with Common are endlessly fascinating as the two play quite well off one another.

Through all the harrowing situations and man-to-not-yet-man talks, a number of issues are dealt with. Still Luv, cheesy title aside, never gets preachy, weaving things into the ever-progressing plot. Just by being and feeling earnest, it provides us a welcome alternative to the type of urban movies of which we’ve become accustomed. There’s humor here, but this is no zany comedy. There’s also violence and we are dealing with a guy who received his education on the streets, but we’re not watching Menace II Society, either. It’s a well-told story that deserves to be seen.

No comments:

Post a Comment