Director Jeff Nichol’s “Loving” is a rare film that depicts the injustice and brutality of racism without resorting to outwardly physical violence or attacks.
“Loving” tells the true story of a hardworking white bricklayer Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton), and his pregnant African American girlfriend, Mildred (Ruth Negga). Richard loves Ruth, and he purchases an acre of land near her family home and proposes to her. The couple travels to Washington, D.C. in order to ratify their marriage and begin a life together.
Unfortunately, their peace doesn’t last long. The couple is raided by police in the middle of the night, and both are arrested for violating the miscegenation laws. The Lovings are informed that their marriage was considered illegal in the state of Virginia, and they would face severe jail time unless they fled the state and never returned, abandoning their families.
Confused and scared, Richard and Mildred fled the state and moved to the city, far from the lives they yearned for themselves or hoped for their children.
Years pass, and eventually the civil rights movement begins to flourish. Upon hearing about the Lovings’ ordeal, the ACLU decides to challenge the court’s decision, with the intention of bringing the case to the Supreme Court.
The result of the Lovings case was groundbreaking in that it made marriage a fundamental right for all people, regardless of color.
Joel Edgerton effectively becomes Richard Loving, the simple man who wanted nothing more than to live in peace with the love of his life. Richard never wanted to be an activist, and Edgerton gives a phenomenal performance of the shy man, who at times can be seen being crushed under the weight of the camera.
Richard didn’t understand why there were forces that opposed his and Mildred’s relationship, and he could not accept leaving his and children.
Ruth Negga is breathtaking as Mildred, who’s graciousness and strength carry the film forward through the couple’s journey. Negga emits a staggering presence as a beautiful woman with strong family ties and a true bond with the nature she was raised among.
“Loving” accomplishes the difficult feat of depicting one of the most important court cases in history, while accurately portraying one of the best American love stories of all time. Director Jeff Nichols manages to tell an amazing story without being marred down by the violence and Hollywood glamour that normally accompanies such films.