Director: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Sharon Blackwood, Andrene Ward-Hammond, Nick Kroll, John Bass, Michael Shannon
The story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, whose challenge of their anti-miscegenation arrest for their marriage in Virginia led to a legal battle that would end at the US Supreme Court. (Source: IMDb)
Whilst it is only a drop in the ocean at the moment compared to the bigger scale of the problem, it is wonderful to see some diversity in this year’s awards season, with high profile films such as Moonlight and Hidden Figures picking up a healthy amount of attention and nominations. In our tumultuous times of hatred and discrimination, Loving is a timely and timeless true story of love overcoming hate and the waves that the real-life couple made in instigating such crucial change.
Director Jeff Nichols is the master of a family-focused drama, and he brings a seasoned deftness to this story. It doesn’t shy away from the verbal and physical abuse experienced by the Lovings, but Nichols also ensures the story remains focused on the remarkable love story at the heart of it. It’s softer and subtler than Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom (which had a very similar subject matter), but with the focus on regular people rather than African kings, there is something warmer and more comforting about it.
Performance wise, both the two leads do a great job, and whilst it’s a million miles away from an “awards-y” performance, Edgerton’s subdued and mumbled performance is befitting of the character and he really embodies this well. Ruth Negga is wonderful as Mildred Loving, demonstrating strength, resilience, warmth and love in abundance. There’s some stiff competition at the Oscars this year, but Negga is rightfully being included in the conversation. Nichols’ token, Michael Shannon, crops up in a very small role, but it is always delightful to see him in anything!
The story is softly told, with nothing showy about it, which may be taking it out of the awards talk, but it is still a beautifully told story, doing justice to the real people at the heart of it, and the small steps they took to bring about justice and change.
It’s typical of Nichols, but the film is a bit of a slow-burn, and whilst this works for the tenderness and softness of the story, you might find your attention wavering in places. It does a great job of conveying the love and devotion between the characters, but spends less time in showing how impactful their marriage was in the grander scheme of things. A better balance between these two things could’ve made for a more consistently interesting and enjoyable watch, but on the other hand, I think there is a great deal to be said in what isn’t told and the simplicity speaks volumes.
I saw this movie and you should too. With two excellent lead performances and a beautiful story at its core, Loving is a slow-burning romantic drama which although slow in places, makes for an interesting watch and says a great deal about the small steps that can bring about big change. If you need a film to remind you of the power of love in overcoming hate, something we all need right now, then this is the film for you!