Caley Wilson’s Luba explores the intersection of single motherhood, addiction, and abuse.  While its heart is in the right place, Luba struggles to give equal and equitable attention to all of these issues, earnestly yet questionably prioritizing some over others.

Luba (Nicole Maroon) is a single parent struggling to hold together a frail relationship with her abusive ex-husband, Donnie (Vladimir Jon Cubrt), who is also an invariably relapsing drug addict.  Luba explores her relationship with her son, Matty (Porter Schafer), who shows some early signs of the same abusive nature as his father.

Maroon and Cubrt give weighty, emotional intensity to their performances that underscore the pathos of the film.  Both overcome the difficulties of the screenplay (written by Cubrt), which sometimes fails to find the right tone.  Tonally, the film vacillates from that of a thriller to that of a sincere character study, which undermines the film’s otherwise thoughtful subject matter.

Although the film paints a challenging and poignant picture of drug addiction, the film runs the risk of unfairly demonizing addicts.  Given that the focus is most prominently on Luba, the single mother, the film’s characterization of Donnie, as at-times villainous, sheds much light of the personal plights of addiction without fairly addressing the institutions and policies in place that continue to engender relapse and recidivism;  though it is likely outside the film’s scope given its brief running time of 87 minutes.

Luba is unevenly written but powerfully acted, and paints a traumatic, poignant picture of single motherhood overcoming an abusive past and present.


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Mark Barber: @WorstCinephile

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