‘LUV’ Movie Review – The Test of Time
It’s not very often I get to review a movie this much later after I originally saw it. Usually, I don’t have a whole bunch of time between viewing a movie and writing about it. This has the potential to be problematic (and has been) because sometimes a movie ages well, and a few months later, I’ll find myself liking it more and more.
Unfortunately, LUV is a movie that doesn’t hold up over time. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s a “bad” movie, but it’s just not quite a movie you are going to look back in 8 months (for me, 8 months, 7 days) and love (or “luv” if you will).
Set in Baltimore, LUV takes place in one 24-hour span, and splits the time between an aging (and recently released) gangster, Vincent (Common), and his nephew, Woody (Michael Rainey, Jr.). It’s part reintegration-into-society and part coming-of-age, making it different than various “gangster” movies.
LUV also tries very hard to be like the beloved TV crime drama The Wire, which just so happens to be one of my favorite TV shows ever. It’d be ludicrous to compare the two side-by-side because LUV not only has a smaller budget, but it is trying to tell a story over two hours and not five seasons.
The connection is still worth making though, because it is about “the game” in Baltimore, and the story shares a couple actors, including Michael Kenneth Williams (ironically as a cop) and Anwan Glover.
Let’s get back to why the movie doesn’t work over time, though. The main problem is it doesn’t stand out past the premise. One of the only lingering concepts that stays with me long after was the premise: a kid being mentored about “the game” by his uncle. The movie tries to make grandiose assertions about Baltimore street life – one of which being “America isn’t a country, it’s a company” – but it doesn’t follow through like it probably should.
These disappointments don’t come to fruition until the end, and this is exactly where it starts to become a lot more formulaic. It’s probably a telling sign about a movie when the thing you like the most is dumped down the drain in the culminating moments.
This isn’t to say the performances (and some of the scenes) aren’t worth highlighting. Common continues to show he is a great actor (he is the only thing I like in AMC’s Hell on Wheels), and the newcomer (Rainey, Jr.) shares a unique chemistry with him. Dennis Haysbert and Danny Glover also appear in the film, and they embody the old, sunken gangsters they’re supposed to be very well.
LUV, again, proves that the acting isn’t where the blame should be. Director Sheldon Candis could receive a pass because this is only his second feature, and it’s his first with a decent budget. However, to stand out as a new director, you must prove you can tell a better story than what we’re given here.
Time may tell a different story for you, but for me, it’s not exactly holding up.
LUV opens this weekend in limited release, look at your local listings to find a showtime near you.
Follow me on Twitter @jmacle