Richard and Mildred Loving didn't set out to change the world. Richard's days were mostly spent as a construction worker during the day, or on hot rods in his spare time. Mildred took care of their kids and kept the house. As their case became national news and ended up in the Supreme Court, they continued about their lives as usual while the world changed around them.
The Lovings fell in love in Caroline County, Virginia, in the late 1950s. When Mildred became pregnant, they drove to Washington, D.C., to get married because of Virginia's laws against interracial marriage. Soon after, they were both arrested and given three choices: annul the marriage immediately, face several years in prison or leave the state for 25 years.
A story this powerful, topical and important needs to be told, and director Jeff Nichols tells it in the most powerful way possible. There are no big speeches in "Loving." Everything from the direction and the score to the script, cinematography and performances are all understated. There are no big moments where the righteous prevail. Instead, we get an almost repetitious number of scenes depicting the Lovings just living as history is made.
As the film begins, the Lovings are already in love and she's pregnant with their first child. There's no long stretch watching them court one another. It's a testament to the performances and chemistry of Ruth Negga ("Misfits," "Preacher") and Joel Edgerton ("The Gift," "Warrior") that we buy them as a couple almost immediately. Negga gives Mildred so many layers that she brought tears to my eyes with just a slight change of vocal inflection. It's a remarkable performance and should be showered with awards next year.
"Loving" will probably be shown in history classes and taught in film courses; every aspect of it is painstakingly put together from the perfect supporting cast (seriously, Michael Shannon is a national treasure) to the authentic reproduction of 1950s-1960s rural Virginia. There is so much hate in the news every day that a story about two people fighting for love feels like a soothing balm. Since their love changed the constitution in regards to interracial marriage, it does something even more important than that. It proves to us that love is always stronger than hate and that by fighting for love, you can change the world.
Dir. Jeff Nichols
Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX