Wow. Why did I not know about this movie until now? It's been almost two days since I finished watching the 2012 film "Luv" and it's still resonating with me.
What a powerful film! It was great. I wasn't sure what to make of it initially, having never heard of it...kinda expecting a typically low-budget/"ghetto" black ensemble film, BUT I was quickly drawn into the characters and plot.
Starring hip-hop-artist-slash-actor Common as "Vincent" and the adorable Michael Rainey Jr. as "Woody," it didn't take long to connect to the gentlemen and their aspirations. The acting was phenomenal from the jump. Just a few minutes in, I could tell that I wouldn't be disappointed with their performances...and I wasn't.
The tale is about 11-year-old Woody missing school one day, to hang out with his uncle Vincent who has just been released from spending 8 years in prison. Vincent takes Woody along for a ride as he handles his business, starting with getting fitted in a new suit, applying for a business loan at the bank, and making stops at his old stomping grounds with his former associates.
Vincent is determined to show Woody how to be a man, and it's an endearing journey through the hours as the family members reconnect. He lets Woody drive his Benz in a parking lot, shows him how to shoot a gun, and spends the day giving him tips and pointers about life and how to conduct himself. Vincent was a highly respected drug dealer...but quickly learns that things have changed in the 8 years he's been off the streets.
It is evident that Vincent wants to start on a new path, correct the actions of the past and apply his dreams to his future. He wants to show Woody how to conduct himself as a man, and puts him in many adult situations...that no school-aged boy should ever be subjected to. Vincent's mission is clear: to become a businessman, and make his crab house restaurant and banquet hall a reality.
Woody's grandmother and guardian only appears in the beginning, and we are told that his mother lives down in North Carolina and is "working on her life." Woody's longing to see her is evident from the beginning of the film, and a constant theme throughout as the promise of driving down to visit his mother and his unconditional love for her are displayed on his face each time she is mentioned, and at the forefront of his mind as the days continues on. Uncle Vincent promises to bring Woody to see his mother at the end of this long day. They are in Baltimore...but it's a promise that Woody is clinging to.
And then things get real. Quickly.
The movie takes place during one day, and in that one day it's amazing to see the characters grow, change, and develop just in matter of hours. The cast alone is worth watching the movie. Again...who knew? I was sold when I saw that "Common" was the star, but I had no idea that the movie would also feature heavyweights like Meagan Goode, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, and Dennis Haysbert.
The movie opened in theatres in January of this year, was directed by Sheldon Candis, and written by Candis and Justin Wilson. I can't understand why it didn't get more attention or recognition than it did, because I think it was not only beautiful to look at with an equally moving soundtrack, the acting was great, and most importantly the story was MOVING.
I can list a half dozen other films that should have NEVER hit the big screen, but who am I to comment on the politics of Hollywood, and the age old debate of true art vs. commercially viable fluff.
My review is simple: this is a great movie. I don't have much more to say other than I think this movie needs to be seen. I still feel the character of Woody in my soul, and think the young man was so captivating that he deserves to be recognized for his work in this role. It touched my heart. I'm still thinking about it, and still impressed by the storytelling in general, and the overall film-making. It wasdisturbing...yet refreshing.
It's one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. It's just a shame that there are so many bogus films that get attention and publicity, and gems like this fly under the radar.
Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.