It’s easy to critique overwrought emotions in movies about racial tension because they – both the movies and emotions – are plentiful. Loving, however, has the opposite problem: It’s so subtle and quiet that it’s underwhelming. Thankfully, strong lead performances from Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, as well as a still-timely social message, make this a civil rights lesson worth seeing.
Director Jeff Nichols (Mud), who also wrote the screenplay, tells the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who were married in Washington D.C. in 1958. They are a loving couple who want to live peacefully on the acre of land he just bought for them. The problem is they live in Virginia, where it is illegal for the white Richard (Edgerton) to be married to the black Mildred (Negga). They are arrested, and told it is “God’s Law” that they remain separate.
A decade-long legal battle that ends at the Supreme Court ensues, and through it all the Lovings want nothing to do with it. They want to be married and live in their home in Virginia, sure, but they have no interest in the press, public interest, or even the other civil rights issues (at least none are shown). They are simple folks who want to be left alone with their three children, and it’s striking that this right is denied to them for so long.
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