The landmark case of Loving v. Virginia challenged the anti-miscegenation laws in the US, and arguably changed the country. But at the centre of the story were two people who, quite simply, were in love and wanted to be married.
Director Jeff Nichols’s previous film Midnight Special was a world away from the homespun, deeply humble reality of Richard and Mildred Loving. But the two films share a common attention to the reaction of people caught up in something larger that fractures and shatters their understanding of the world. In all of Nichols’s work it is the primacy of family and love that drives the story. Read on…
Joel Edgerton was a secondary character in Midnight Special, riding shotgun with the almighty Michael Shannon, but here he is at the centre of the drama. With a blond buzz cut and false teeth, Edgerton is virtually unrecognizable, but he embodies the quiet stoicism and courage of a straightforward man with conviction. As Mildred Loving, Ruth Negga is a revelation. Curiously enough, neither actor is American (Edgerton is from Australia and Negga from Ethiopia).
It is tempting to look at the timing of the film, as the US heads to the polls, as cris de coeur for love and tolerance. (The official website asks viewers to ‘vote loving’ in a not-so-oblique nod to its opening date.) In an interview with Indiewire, the filmmaker was direct about the political implications: “You can get on your soapbox, you can push your political agenda or your religious agenda, against gay marriage, against racial equality, but you can’t argue about these people in their home…Equality as a concept isn’t something I think we ever achieve, it’s something we make progress toward, and hope that we don’t slip back and lose any of it. Right now, we’re in a generation that is in dire need of a new definition for equality.”
AWFJ Movie of the Week Panelists Comments:
Pam Grady: Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton are heartbreaking as a devoted couple whose mixed-race marriage is deemed illegal in Jim Crow era Virginia in Jeff Nichols’ masterwork Loving, a finely etched drama focusing on the couple at the heart of a heart of a historical Supreme Court case.
Thelma Adams: Loving! I love this movie that is about true blue-collar love in the South between real people who happen to be of different races. Ruth Negga unquestionably delivers an Oscar-worthy performance – and Joel Edgerton is no slouch, either!
Jennifer Merin: A beautifully crafted and performed drama about the true story of Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple who fought for their right to marry during the Jim Crow era in Virginia. Filmmaker Nancy Biurski’s documentary, The Loving Story (2011), is a superb companion piece. It’s wonderful to see that attention is being given to this case and issues of equality, and with such fine cinematic works.
Director: Jeff Nichols
Release Date: November 4, 2016
Running Time: 123 minutes
Principal Cast: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Nick Kroll, Michael Shannon, Marton Csokas
Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols
Production Companies: Random Films, Big Beach, Augusta Films, Tri-State Pictures
Distributor: Focus Features, Universal Pictures
Official Site Link
AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Thelma Adams, Nikki Baughan, Anne Brodie, Candice Frederick, Pam Grady, Leba Hertz, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Perri Nemiroff, Liz Whittemore, Jeanne Wolf
Edited by Sandra Kraisirideja, AWFJ.org Associate Editor. Written by Dorothy Woodend