Saturday, December 3, 2016


Love is color blind, except in the state of Virginia. Based on the true story of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga), Loving follows the events which led to the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia after the Lovings were expelled from the state under threat of prison for violating the state's Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited interracial cohabitation and marriage.

Leaving the legal maneuverings, motions, and trial to occur largely off-screen, instead writer/director Jeff Nichols focuses the film on Richard and Mildred. Despite a world that told them loving each other was wrong, the pair found each other and stood by each other in the years where hatred and bigotry did their best to destroy their love. The film's title perfectly summarizes the pair's relationship. Not out to change the world, simply understanding that their love couldn't be wrong, their struggle is both emotional and inspirational. With so much of the film riding on their shoulders, Negga and Edgerton are terrific on-screen together in low-key but emotion-packed performances. It's impossible not to root for them and it makes you sad for any world which would try to keep them apart.

Understated while still offering an emotional punch, Loving is terrific filmmaking and easily one of the best movies of the year. Focused more on the emotional intimacy of two people than the larger impact of their actions, Nichols chooses a character-driven drama over of big scale legal battle and its historical ramifications. The choice is unexpected, but immensely satisfying.

There are no cliched racists, KKK rallies, or impromptu speeches directed to history. Nichols isn't interested in a history lesson or wagging his finger at Caroline County, Virginia. Instead the film focuses on the unshakable bond between the pair, the constant threat living together posed to them and their children, and their unwavering devotion to refusing to give up on each other or the possibility of eventually returning home. History isn't changed by those who rail the hardest but by those who fight for their rights daily and refuse to accept inequality under the law. From the perspective of Nichols and his film, the world is changed in the most profound ways with love. How can you argue with that?

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