Director: Sheldon Candis
Starring: Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, Charles S. Dutton
Don’t let the title, LUV, fool you. This is a stripped-down drama about greed, payback, and at certain turns, respect. Now that all sounds lovely (pun intended), but the filmmakers forgot to show some substantial love (pun still intended) to the filmmaking mechanics. And by neglecting the mechanics, none of those themes fully come through.
It’s essentially a 94 minute acting reel for the star, Common (though some acting reels – comprised of random clips from an assortment of movies/TV shows – tell a better story than this). And the guy is awesome in it, as he goes through an array of emotions. Problem is that the script/story is fragmented and simply amounts to a montage of scenes that have no real rhyme or reason.
This clichéd tale about a man with a jaded past, who returns home after prison and attempts to start anew, can’t because the past still haunts him. Everything is so generic as you see Common make an effort to do something legit but ends up having/wanting to call on shady people from his past (Played by Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, and Charles S. Dutton) to earn some cash. The only difference added in is that Common is saddled with his 11 year-old streetwise nephew, Michael Rainey Jr., to whom he is trying to show what it takes to be a man in the world via Common’s skewed eyes. And let’s just say one might see better parenting lessons on Jerry Springer.
His young partner-in-crime shows some solid talent, too, but again, the delivery is so jagged that none of it matters save for one or two provocative scenes that happen in the latter stages of this 24-hour tale. If there’s any lesson one can take out of it, your past will always catch up with you. Yet that’s the only thing the film gets across (barely). The rest is just a series of scenes that fail to tell an engaging story. And it’s as simple, and flawed, as that.
Overall, LUV has a game cast and showcases the range of Common, who is well on his way to a fine, and possibly lauded, acting career. Not sure the same can be said for director and co-writer Sheldon Candis though; for his handling of this feature-length product (just his 2nd by the way) suggests he needs to sharpen his education (or raise more money for a production budget) in order to have a future at the helm (director’s chair).