Loving is based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving who were an interracial couple living in Virginia in the late 1950s. Their marriage was considered illegal in the state and the couple were arrested. The story focuses on their attempt to find justice so they could stay close to their families and friends while raising their kids the way they saw fit. It’s a compelling case that makes it all the way to the Supreme Court.
Loving is a solid film by Jeff Nichols
This is the fifth feature film written and directed by Jeff Nichols. It is the first of his films to be based on a true story, and it is noticeably different in style as a result. As a friend of mine said, Nichols usually works in a grounded surrealism. That is to say his movies are set in our world, but often feature some element of a supernatural or otherworldly feel. Loving is simply set in our world as it should be since it’s a compelling true story that had major impacts on the society we now live in.
It’s not an easy film to see in theaters as it is still in a limited release. The Polk Theater in Lakeland, a small theater that doesn’t always show movies, had it playing. Unfortunately, something about their projector was off and the tops of people’s heads were being cut off in several shots. Hopefully, it was the theater and not an odd choice by Jeff Nichols, but as the theater isn’t always a movie theater it is more likely their issue.
Even with the framing issues at the viewing, the production of the film is gorgeous. Lots of time goes by through the course of the film and the changing of seasons alone was impressive. One scene it’s snowing in Washington D.C. then a few scenes later and many years their on a small farm in Virginia with fields of snow. There is a vintage look to the film that makes it feel like the 60s. The old cars that are a hobby of Richard Loving are also awesome to see and seen in several sequences.
The Highlight of the film is the cast
The highlight of the film is definitely Joel Edgerton who is becoming a reason to see a movie. He is able to play all sorts of characters and does a great job in this film. However, Ruth Negga is the standout performance. She is extremely natural on screen and her emotion is definitely an important part of the story. The two have tons of chemistry and their relationship and love is what this film relies on. The two are convincing and the best moment is the recreation of a photo from Life magazine.
Michael Shannon, a Jeff Nichols regular, shows up as the photographer and spends the day with the family. As the day progresses, it’s clear that Shannon’s character has a positive vibe as even Richard seems to be at ease. The day ends with Richard and Mildred watching Andy Griffith and getting cozy on the couch. That’s the photo that will later become iconic in Life magazine. All part of the plan by their lawyers, played by Nick Kroll and Jon Bass, to make the couple’s plight newsworthy.
It’s definitely an intriguing story, but it did feel a little slow early on. The relationships are well developed and well performed, but it didn’t wow me as a film. The story did, but the movie felt like it dragged a little and didn’t have the Nichols flare that I’ve enjoyed. Loving earns the Decent Watch rating.