Directed by: Jeff Nichols – Starring: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Nick Kroll, Michael Shannon, Marton Csokas
Despite the fact that she has been around for eons, and has turned in some hugely acclaimed performances, Loving will be remembered as the movie that put Irish actress, Ruth Negga, on the map, and turned her into a bona fide movie star.
Based on true events, Loving stars Negga and Edgerton as Mildred and Richard Loving, a mixed-race couple, who challenged the American Constitution and won. While that may be the crux of the story in a nutshell, it really oversimplifies what they went through.
Having left their home in Caroline County, Virginia, to marry in Washington D.C., they were subsequently arrested, as their interracial marriage wasn’t recognised on home turf.
Both were sentenced to a year in prison, which would be suspended if they left the state for 25 years. However, after several years of struggling in Washington and feeling homesick, Mildred wrote to then Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, who in turn contacted the American Civil Liberties Union on her behalf. They agreed to help them, and their case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was unanimously held that laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional.
This was a hugely significant moment in the American Civil Rights Movement, but what makes it all the more remarkable is that Mildred and Richard weren’t activists – just two people in love, who wanted to be able to live and bring up their children where they grew up themselves.
Although they were aware that their case could help a lot of people, they were modest in their accomplishment, and Edgerton and Negga capture that perfectly here.
Mildred is very much the driving force, and Negga does a great job of portraying her as equally steely but vulnerable, while Edgerton manages to instil a quiet stoicism in Richard, despite the fact that he is not enamoured of the attention they are receiving. This whole movie hinges on them and their performances and chemistry, and they do a fantastic job.
Loving is also a fascinating story which deserved to be told. However, given that it hinges on the outcome of a court case, you would expect a big overblown courtroom drama, but Nichols forgoes that to tell the couples story instead. The courts barely feature, and the focus is on the Lovings (what a fantastic surname by the way) and their reactions to the outcomes of various hearings.
It does feel like it is somewhat at the expense of conveying the gravity of these hearings, and for those who are not familiar with the back-story, it may have helped to give it more context. It is over an hour into the movie before Mildred even writes to Kennedy, which was a turning point for the pair.
While this isn’t a flaw per se, it may disappoint some people who were hoping for more tension. Instead, what you get is a surprisingly gentle and heart-warming tale of two remarkably unremarkable people, who literally changed the world as they knew it.
Loving is beautifully shot and wonderfully paced, and it does somewhat restore your faith in people-power – particularly in light of recent events in the US.
Loving may not be the most exciting, action-packed movie you will see, but it is certainly one of the most uplifting.
In Cinemas February 3rd 2017! See Trailer Below: