In 1967, the United States Supreme Court ruled that anyone, regardless of color, should be allowed to marry. This ruling came about because of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga). They were an interracial couple who lived in Virginia but married in Washington D.C. to avoid the “red tape” but ultimately were told to leave the state or end the marriage. After a 9 year battle with the state of Virginia, the couple finally obtained the ability to live in their hometown once again. This is their story as it paved the way for interracial couple all over the country.
Directed by Mike Nichols (Take Shelter, Midnight Special, Mud), Loving is quite a different movie than he is use to directing. Mike Nichols usually tells stories that have a sci-fi theme or a character who goes insane. Loving is almost a documentary in the way it is presented because it highlights the major true facts of the battle with the courts. For a movie about race and racial issues, Loving is one of the safest and non-enraging of a movie about discrimination I’ve ever seen. There is no violence, hardly any use of racial slurs, and some of the time I even felt like the Loving family was in the wrong for breaking laws they agreed to follow. Whether it is morally wrong or right, when 2 people stand in front of a judge and agree to leave the state or be put in jail, I don’t feel so bad when they break the law and get arrested.
Going back to what I said about the “safe” nature of the film, I was shocked that there wasn’t more “edge” to this film. Even the arrest scenes are non-eventful as the arrested party would simply get in the patrol car as directed. There were no fights or struggles. No one gets hit or maimed or beaten near death. These actions are typical with the behavior back in those times and I was surprised that nothing of the sort was in the film. Because of the fact that everything was bland and uneventful, the movie is pretty boring. The 2 hour run time should have been more like 1.5 hours and I would have liked to see a background of the 2 main characters so I could invest more emotion into them. The movie practically opens with the proposal so I never felt like I know the whole journey with these two people.
The highlight of Loving is the acting. Joel Edgerton has been talked about for acting awards, and I can see the argument for him, but the rest of the case is solid. This is definitely a role he isn’t use to playing and he plays the “simple country boy” pretty well. I would compare Loving to movies like The Iron Lady and Philomena where the story is based on a true story, but the movie will be remembered for the acting over the boring and lackluster story telling.
At the end of the day, Loving is a glorified documentary that highlights all the basic facts to the story of Loving vs. Virginia. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga are the major focal points as their acting will keep this film relevant, but because of the safe nature of the story, this movie will put many people to sleep before they get to the end. I don’t see anyone wanting to see this a 2nd time, let alone make it to the end of their first viewing. Co-starring Michael Shannon, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, and Jon Bass.
5/10 Stars – This movie means well and tells a story worth telling, but it is too long, boring and “safe” for a movie about interracial marriage back in the 1960s.