Arts Review, Movies
Jeff Nichols, director & script
Starring: Joel Edgerton (Richard Loving), Ruth Negga (Mildred Loving), Nick Kroll (Bernie Cohen), Michael Shannon (Grey Villet), Marton Csokas (Sherrif Brooks)
In 1958, Richard Loving and his girlfriend Mildred did something unthinkable in the state of Virginia. Young and in love, they got married. That decision made them criminals and set them on the path to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found, in 1967, that they did have the right to be married.
What was their crime? Richard was white and Mildred was black. Up until 1967, many Southern states in the U.S., including Virginia had laws against miscegenation. With their victory, the Lovings (what an appropriate name) struck a blow for civil rights and liberty across the entire country.
Jeff Nichols, the stylish director of Mud, Take Shelter and Midnight Special has quickly established a reputation as a fine director who can create an atmosphere of tension better than most while also being able to get great performances from his actors. Loving—title of his new film, which recounts their historical case—seems like quite a departure for him. But Nichols is from Little Rock and was raised in the American South. The story of the Lovings was one he actually wanted to bring to the screen.
Loving benefits not only from Nichols’ fine direction, which does inject a sense of menace into certain scenes, but also from his choices for the leads. Joel Edgerton plays Richard Loving like a classic Method actor like Montgomery Clift or James Dean might have done; he’s all bottled up inside with his one emotional link to the world being his love for Mildred. As his wife, Ruth Negga is a revelation; her expressive eyes show what this woman of few words is feeling.
It’s clear that the Lovings are simple people. They’re not big talkers nor do they want to be revolutionaries. All they want is to be married, raise children and go about the business of living. Yet the times were contrived to make them a memorable couple who changed the lives of others for the better.
Loving is a truly lovely movie. It’s moving and beautifully rendered by a talented team who clearly enjoyed making such a worthwhile film. I recommend it highly.
Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus
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