LUV was one of the best films I was fortunate enough to see at the Nashville Film Festival.  This film was directed by newcomer Sheldon Candis, who was also in attendance for the screening.  I was very excited about this movie going into it, but it even exceeded my expectations.  The film was loosely based on Candis’ real life events with his uncle.  After watching this movie, the sky is the limit for Mr. Candis.

LUV follows 13-year-old Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.), who lives with his grandmother and uncle.  The film spans 24-hours in Baltimore, MD. Common plays Woody’s uncle, Vincent, and from the start I was entranced his character.  The movie starts with Vincent taking Woody to school, they get into an argument about whether Woody should go talk to a girl in his class, which he refuses.  Uncle Vincent decides at that moment that he’s going to take Woody with him for the day and teach him ‘how to be a man’.  Immediately I was emotionally invested in the film.  Anybody can relate to a relative giving them life advice, whether they were harsh about it or not.

From then on, a day unfolds that is the likes of Training Day except with a 13-year-old and his mysterious uncle.  From the beginning red flags were drawn about what Uncle Vincent actually does for a living, and most of the times my assumptions were right.  He has been recently released from prison, but drives a brand new Mercedes-Benz.  This is what I loved most about this film, it gives you these red flags to sit with but still keeps Uncle Vincent mysterious.Events take place throughout the day that reveal more and more about Vincent and also push Woody to his limit, all bringing the film to a chilling climax. I’m not going to go further into the plot, because I think that everyone should watch this film, but it definitely is worth investing two hours in.

The film also carries a great supporting cast with Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, and Meagan Good. I only had one wish for this movie and it is the supporting cast. They did a great job, but I just found their development lacking throughout the film. Meagan Good has only one scene and her character seemed a bit random. Other than this, it was written beautifully and Common and Rainey Jr.’s performances are magical. I really hope this movie gets a strong mainstream reception, because it is definitely one of the better films I have seen this year.