Set in Baltimore, Luv is a day in the life of Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.), a 13-year-old boy. After his uncle Vincent’s (Common) return from prison, the two set off for a day of business. By the end, nearly all the main characters are dead. That’s not a spoiler, it’s just the truth. In the north Baltimore neighborhood the film jumps from, death isn’t an “if,” it’s a “when.” Vincent attempts to get his life back on track, and show Woody what it takes to do so, but the call of the streets and the game returns.
Rainey’s performance is astonishing for such a young actor. The audience watches the character grow over the course of the film, a testament to Rainey’s skill. Buoyed by supporting roles from Danny Glover, Michael K. Williams, and Dennis Haysbert, Luv is an imperfect, if not appealing, crime story. While it doesn’t spend as much time developing the emotions of the lead —Uncle Vincent — as I’d like, it makes up for it by making Woody such a believable, earnest character.