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film review

Nicole Maroon and Porter Schaefer in Luba.Courtesy of Highball.TV

  • Luba
  • Directed by: Caley Wilson
  • Written by: Vladimir Jon Cubrt
  • Starring: Nicole Maroon and Vladimir Jon Cubrt
  • Classification: 14A; 87 minutes


3.5 out of 4 stars

Using film to explore drug addiction is risky. Despite it varying greatly for every person affected, so much of pop culture still opts to overlook the mundanity and ordinariness that accompanies the pain of substance abuse. But that’s what Luba succeeds at: following the challenges of Luba (Nicole Maroon) as she raises her son after his father’s (Donnie, played by the film’s writer Vladimir Jon Cubrt) arrest and crack addiction. Director Caley Wilson submerges viewers in the exhausting reality of recovery, relapse and of watching somebody you love begin to lose themselves to something so overwhelming.

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But just as valuable, the movie also uses this story to call out the social systems that force those without money, without support systems and without the choices afforded to the middle class and above. We see Luba struggle to keep her head above water as she tries to create a stable environment for her little boy. We see Donnie’s drive to be a good father while trying to fight the pull to sustain his addiction. And we see Donnie’s mother (Jillian Rees-Brown) hope for the best while fearing the worst, all while actively rooting for her son. Of course, it’s by no means the perfect story about love and addiction, but it is an important one. It exists everywhere, for so many people, within the ordinary, and often so heartbreakingly mundane.

Luba opens Jan. 10 in Toronto and Calgary.