LUV

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In Luv, an 11-year-old boy gets taught how to shoot a gun. By his uncle. And later gets screamed at by the uncle for not taking someone out when a deal goes bad. And you thought it was naughty when the man made the boy skip school. Welcome to Baltimore, or at least the Baltimore according to first-time director/co-writer Sheldon Candis. Reportedly semi-autobiographical, Luv tells the story of ex-con Vincent (Common), who now helps take care of his nephew, Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.), and is trying to get a loan to open a crab shack. The film chronicles the pair’s day-in-a-life, from the time Woody shows his uncle the sketch he drew of him as a superhero to increasingly desperate moves by Vincent to get the money he needs not to default on the property to, finally, a somewhat puzzling bloodbath. The problem with Luv is that, despite a wannabe rawness and attempt to reflect the ramifications of a child being reared by a fractured, criminal family, it’s too puzzling too often, with Vincent visiting people -- relatives? cohorts? -- and talking inside-baseball about goings-on past and present as you try to keep the narrative straight. The story is ultimately about a bright-eyed child forced to grow up in the course of a day. But Candis, while promising, still has some growing to do himself. (TO)
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