2 1/2 stars
Often it's the least narratively crucial moments in a movie that steal the movie right out from under the movie's nose. (Let's assume movies have noses, if only this once.)
In "LUV," an uneven but strongly acted debut feature from co-writer and director
The best scene doesn't advance the plot. It accomplishes something better: It captures interesting behavior. With his addict mother away for an undetermined length of time, 11-year-old Woody, played by the super-talented
As the men cajole the boy, schooling him in the proper method of pounding and cracking, "LUV" delivers a good, tense scene, illustrating all we need to know about a preteen's desire to impress some dubious father figures.
The rest of "LUV" (no relation to
Candis' film sticks closely to the theme of father figures, lost and found. As Vincent and Woody conduct business, the boy learns how to dress sharp, how to look someone in the eye when offering a firm handshake. Then come other lessons: how to shoot a gun, how to drive a car a few years before it's legal, how to negotiate under pressure with hopped-up, pistol-flashing drug dealers.
"LUV" may not convince with Woody's aggressively telescoped transformation. But the actors compensate. Common, clearly, relishes the chance to play a complicated, flawed man of the streets, and director Candis encourages a looseness and spontaneity in the ensemble atmosphere.
Premiering a year ago at the Sundance festival, "LUV" may take one too many shortcuts en route to its finale, and the synthesizer score by composer
"LUV" Movie Trailer
MPAA rating: R (for violence, language, child endangerment and some drug content).
Running time: 1:34.
Cast: Common (Vincent);
Credits: Directed by
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