Monday, December 12, 2016
***1/2 out of ****
In Loving, Joel Edgerton brings to the screen a hero that the film's writer/director Jeff Nichols has been presenting to his audience in most of his work: A rural man with little regard for law or politics whose heart guides him into a world of trouble. In his new film, it is the woman in his life, played by Ruth Negga, who works to achieve their freedom by responding to calls for change that are too broad for the individualism of her husband.
This film is based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple in 1950s Virginia, who legally wed in Washington DC, but were soon after taken from their home in the middle of the night by police for breaking their state's anti-miscegenation laws.
The film's presentation of their long ordeal - which required moving to avoid jail time and eventually a Supreme Court case represented by the American Civil Liberties Union - avoids the kind of melodramatic sensationalism found in most historic films about fights for equality. The deeper their lives become entangled in the litigation and media exposure, the more difficult their relationship became.
All this is communicated more with visuals than dialogue. Loving is a simple film, but rather meticulous in execution and without any flaws that bothered me. Perhaps the most unique thing Nichols brings to us with the film's primary setting, is a microcosm of racial harmony in a time and place that were not known for such things, but this auteur is always eager to share unexpected qualities in people slightly removed from the social norms of more populated areas.
The film comes across as honest, quiet and patient. Even if it is a little slow, it successfully tells an important chapter in civil rights history with tasteful grace.