The strength and conviction of a couple’s love is put on full display in “Loving.”
The picture tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, two residents of Virginia who were married in Washington D.C. However, because of Virginia state laws, their marriage was not just declared void because it was interracial, they were also put in jail.
The result was a nearly decade long legal battle that eventually found its way in front of the United States Supreme Court. The majority of the flick, though, is spent with Richard and Mildred, who make the best of their situation in any way they can.
“Loving” is an extraordinary subtle movie as there is very little in rousing speeches or grandiose sequences. Instead, audiences are treated to a rather subdued picture detailing the lives of a deeply loving couple.
Of course there are the moments of suspense, such as when the two are jailed or when their verdicts are being handed down by various justices, but at its core, seeing the two on screen simply appreciating each other is the film’s main strength. Ultimately, it was these moments that allow for an audience to relate to historically important figures.
With that said, the movie faces its handful of hindrances and faults. For example, while the movie is supposed to span over a period of 10 years, the time wasn’t especially felt. So much of the film is day-to-day life that even as their environments change, the time period appears to stay the same. As a result, there wasn’t an overall feeling of exhaustion that I’m guessing many of the real life figures were going through at the time.
Also, I feel as though Director and Writer Jeff Nichols missed an opportunity for a few more energetic moments from the film’s two lawyer characters, Bernie Cohen (Nick Kroll) and Phil Hirschkop (Jon Bass). When these two were on screen, their interactions had a bit more humor behind them, when the film could have rather used them to give the real national perspective on just how important this case was.
As previously stated, though, the picture gets its strength from the main couple, and this helps raise the movie up to a high level, thanks to the fantastic acting by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga. Edgerton, for example, might give the most subdued performance of his career with Richard, who is a man of few words. However, Every mannerism, facial expression, or even glance at Mildred is effective in portraying the character’s love for his wife.
Negga, who gets more of the dialogue as her character spoke more than her husband, also had great subtle moments, helping to display the couple’s love for each other.
These exchanges of love and compassion make for an extremely heartfelt movie, with many of the emotions felt by the couple transcending fully on to the audience.
“Loving” also benefited from solid filmmaking from Nichols and his crew. This was especially true in the set and costume design that brought the 1950s and 60s to life in a very convincing way.
Overall, “Loving” is a well crafted historical romance-drama featuring two fantastic lead performances with enormous chemistry and an important message. However, there were some issues preventing it from being one of the best of its genre. 3.9 out of 5.