Few biographical drama films have few twists and turns because the genre is supposed to have them in spades. But Loving, a film by Jeff Nichols who wrote and directed it, is one of the few straightforward dramas that tells the story as it is, none of the flashiness and fuss many viewers prefer. For this reason, you will want to watch it at theaters like Harkins because it’s so true to real life.
Set in the 1950s and 1960s
Even when it’s set in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the film feels so urgent, so in touch, and so current with contemporary times. Loving is the love story of two people who fell in love, fought for their then-unorthodox love, and changed the United States and its society. We have seen it happen within the LGBT community, too, a fight still being fought in many states and nations.
In 1958 in Virginia, Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga) were making their dreams of a happy family. But they were different from many couples – Richard was white and Mildred was black, a union considered as taboo and illegal in the 1950s especially in Virginia.
So their dreams of living a peaceful family life in a beautiful country setting were smashed when they were arrested in the middle of the night by police officers. Their crime: Their marriage license was invalid in Virginia and, in fact, their union violated the anti-miscegenation laws of the state. Their punishment: Instead of jail time, they were banished from Virginia for 25 years and, thus, left their home, their land, and their families behind.
But it was a time when the civil rights movement was awakening. And so the Loving marriage became the staging point upon which the racist laws against biracial unions were abolished. The United States Supreme Court ruled the anti-miscegenation laws to be unconstitutional resulting in the increased albeit reluctant acceptance of biracial unions in society.
See It in the Body and Face
Unlike many dramas with eloquent dialogues, Loving relies on the excellent performance of its actors in conveying complex emotions universal to the human existence – love, faith and hope as well as anxiety, fear, and frustration. Nichols was also perceptive in letting the actors do their work while also providing each scene with a tactile feeling, attention to detail, and a sense of tension.
You just have to look at Edgerton’s stooped posture from his character’s burden of ensuring his family’s welfare to decide that, indeed, here is a man who will fight despite everything else. You only have to look at Negga’s face as she receives a news via telephone to say that here’s a woman who will stand by her man. You have actors whose performances enthral from start to end!