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.
‘Loving’ is a touching and restrained historical drama about a marriage between a white man and a black woman, and the challenges they faced to live their lives as a result of state laws which prohibited interracial marriage. The couple were Richard and Mildred Loving, and their case eventually went to the Supreme Court in 1967 where justice was finally served. Perhaps what is so remarkable about Jeff Nichols retelling of this true life story is how his direction and storytelling approach focuses on the characters and avoids histrionics and the tendency to go for rousing speeches to deliver a message. The entire story flows through this ordinary couple who became unlikely icons for the civil rights movement, but the focus is always on them as individuals and less on the wider implications of their case.
Nichols paints the Loving’s as no different to any other couple and the subtle performances from Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga sell their love beautifully. We spend much of the film watching the couple live their life, adapting to the challenges of a relationship and moving through key steps in their lives, and this grounding makes it all the more powerful and devastating when their existence is threatened by the racist laws in the state they call home. I first came across Ruth Negga in TV series such as ‘Misfits’ and ‘Marvel’s Agents of Shield’, but it was last year’s ‘Iona’, set on the Scottish island of the same name, that really cemented her talent and ‘Loving’ is an extension of that. She imbues a naturally quiet character with a lot of heart and her performance is a wonderfully effective display of love and subtle resistance. As her husband, Joel Edgerton is equally brilliant, and it’s also nice to see Nick Kroll in a rare dramatic role as the lawyer who represents the couple at the Supreme Court. This is a really heartfelt story and it’s told extremely well with a lot of care and compassion for its subjects.
‘Loving’ is an understated and intimate portrayal of a couple’s love for one another, seen through the prism of a landmark civil rights case that elevated this ordinary couple into the limelight. Jeff Nichols is one of the finest working directors today and his tender approach to the material enhances the power of the Loving’s story and this quietly resonating film is well worth seeing.
Directed By: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, Michael Shannon and Bill Camp