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Luv 

luv.jpg
★★★

Starring Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert and Danny Glover. Written by Sheldon Candis and Justin Wilson. Directed by Sheldon Candis. Produced by Sean Banks, Eric Bannat, Jason Michael Berman, Gordon Bijelonic, Kwesi Collison, Common, Caroline Connor, Derek Dudle, Lindsay Fellows, Michael Finley, Thomas Bore, Mollie Gallagher, Robert Hobson, W. Michael Jenson and Rodney Wilkins.

This film explores the idea of having role models and presents a series of intertwined relationships, some more deeply rooted than others. And while its intentions are good, the recycled story meanders at times. But despite the clichés and the predictable storyline, the film is engaging and manages to touch us emotionally, thanks to some very strong acting and chemistry.

The film is about a misguided 11-year-old boy named Woody (Rainey Jr.), who clings to the closest male role model in his life, Vincent (Common). Having just been released from jail, Vincent is attempting to find a new way of life and open a restaurant, but is finding himself stunted from his past and unable to amply fund his venture. He takes Woody under his wing and sets out to show him how to be a real man. When he visits his old role models, he's not necessarily shown hospitality and finds himself again involved in the same situation he put himself in a long time ago, making his life a cautionary tale for Woody.

This coming of age film raises some relevant issues and definitely makes an impact emotionally. It touches on the importance of family and education. It's a very real depiction of the hardships that ex-convicts face and the circumstances that produce a cycle of tragedy and hardship. Along the same lines of older movies like Boys in the Hood, this movie explores the deeper social issues at work. Standout performances by Common and Danny Glover give LUV another dimension and make it a film you can enjoy watching and stay fully engaged in while learning something about different stereotypes and standards of living. So while it's an idea that we've seen developed time and time again in film, these performances give it an edge and make it memorable and compelling. —Rebecca Hillary

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