Loving, rated PG-13
Loving is a well-acted portrayal of a true love story that changed U.S. history.
This film is directed and written by Jeff Nichols (Mud). The film has received Golden Globe nominations for Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, and a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Negga. The film received a standing ovation at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2016.
At the heart of this film is Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton, The Gift) and his girlfriend Mildred (Ruth Negga). The film begins in 1958 in the state of Virginia. Richard is a hard-working auto mechanic and construction worker. The film opens with Mildred telling Richard that she is pregnant. He is happy with the news. They want to get married but can’t in Virginia as Richard is white and Mildred is black. Interracial marriage has been illegal in Virginia since 1924. So they go to Washington D.C. to get married, and then return back to their families and to the property Richard purchased for their future home in Caroline County, Virginia to begin their married life together.
But they are soon violently awoken in the middle of the night by the county sheriff and some of his deputies, and arrested for violating a law prohibiting interracial marriage. Their lawyer Frank Beazley (Bill Camp, The Night Of) enters a plea before the judge that in effect says that if they plead guilty they must leave the state for a period of 25 years. They then move to Washington D.C. and begin their family, which grows to three children. But they long to return to Virginia.
Mildred watches a civil rights march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and eventually writes a letter to Attorney General Robert Kennedy. This begins a legal battle that will last nearly 11 years. Nick Kroll portrays ACLU attorney Bernie Cohen who helps the Lovings take their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court decision of Loving v. Virginia was decided June 12, 1967. It unanimously held that Virginia’s “Racial Integrity Act of 1924,” which forbade marriage between people of different races, was unconstitutional. This decision therefore effectively voided all such laws in other states as well.
The acting performances by Edgerton and Negga are outstanding. Their love for each other under extremely trying circumstances comes through clearly. On the downside, the film moved extremely slowly. The film is rated PG-13 for a small amount of adult language and a few uses of the “n-word”.
Nichols was able to tell the story of the Loving family as accurately as possible by relying on Nancy Buirski’s 2011 documentary The Loving Story. The documentary captured many details of the couple’s private lives, and much of the dialogue in the film comes directly from the documentary. The Lovings story has also been portrayed in the 1996 TV movie Mr. and Mrs. Loving, which starred Timothy Hutton and Lela Rochon.