Anyone single, married or in a relationship can go into a screening of Loving and come out awestruck by how far we have come in a society in the last half-century because this is a film that can make you wonder how society could be so rigid?
Loving is based on a true story, in fact you could say that it is based on a love-story about a man and a woman who get married; that’s basically what it’s about. What makes it interesting is the fact that the man and the woman are of different races and their marriage is quite unconventional at the time.
After traveling to Washington D.C. to marry his beloved Mildred, who is with their first child, Richard Loving returns to Virginia only to be quickly arrested and thrown in jail because the commonwealth of Virginia wouldn’t recognize the marriage of a white man to a black woman. After being forced into exile to Washington, Richard and Mildred are aided by a defense led by attorney Bernard Cohen of the American Civil Liberties Union who takes their case all the way to the Supreme Court and emerge victorious.
Writer and director Jeff Nichols delivers a film that is practically sedate but steadily stoic in its telling, chronicling the Loving’s marriage that forever changed the landscape of American society and Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga lead this film with very grounded but very well done performances.
The supporting cast of Will Dalton, Martin Csokas, Bill Camp, David Jansen, Nick Kroll and Michael Shannon all do what they can to elevate Edgerton and Negga’s performances and do so effectively yet I credit Nichols for making a film that captures the look and mood of the period of its time and how society viewed race-relationships at the time and how people perceived relationships of that sort. There is drama in this story but it doesn’t go overboard; it just stays right on target related to its subject matter.
Adam Stone’s use of the camera and Julie Monroe’s editing is very neat and clean. There was a time or two when I was reminded of Nichols’ Midnight Special while I was watching Loving, particularly the driving sequences from the perspective of the driver; that same technique still drew chills from me, it was so suspenseful.
Chad Keith’s production design, Adam Willis’ set decoration and Erin Benach’s costumes did a great job capturing the look of the 1950’s and 60’s, this movie was very well put together to provide a feeling of authenticity for the spectator.
While Loving is a fine film, I feel that it didn’t attempt to reach outside the purview of its subject matter. It just focused on Richard and Mildred and their family and their struggles throughout their ordeal and that’s fine yet their marriage marked a turning point in the societal history of this country and I would have appreciated it if Jeff Nichols took the time to explore the ramifications of the actions of the Loving’s and the Supreme Court’s decision on Loving v. Virginia.
What I mean to say is that how did others look at the Loving’s’ during their media coverage of their trial, how did others perceive the ruling on Loving v. Virginia, after the trial was over and their conviction overturned, were the Loving’s treated better in their hometown and by the police? This was an impactful course of action that changed the landscape of this country and I would have liked to see it further explored and I felt that Nichols wasted his chance to do so.
Loving is a very sweet and patient motion picture that I encourage everyone to see because it’s a love story that needed to be told because it was a love story that changed the world by proving that all love is created equal.