By Ryan Keating-Lambert
One of the openers at Febio Fest and an accurate depiction of the events surrounding the Loving’s quest for marriage and recognition in a conservative Virginia, with stand-out performances from all, but moves slowly and could have benefited with a little more drama.
Set in the 1950s and based on a true story, Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga) challenge the US supreme court for the recognition of their interracial marriage after a series of run-ins with the police in Virginia, where their marriage is neither recognised, nor supported in any way.
Applauded for being one of the better dramas of last year, both for its historical accuracy and current relevance, director Jeff Nichols (Midnight Special, Mud) succeeds in making a film that minimalises sensationalism and focuses on the real story. Not a single hint of typical Hollywood cheese or drama is present here, and that works in the film’s favour, and also against it.
Loving could have benefited from more drama, to be honest. It’s a heartwarming true story that manages to avoid cliches, but there’s never anything really gritty. I wanted just that little bit more from Richard and Mildred, even if the performances were first class.
Negga makes a mark with her kind and withdrawn portrayal of Mildred and also earned an Oscar nomination this year, but Richard is the real stand-out here. A character that could have easily gone in a different direction if it wasn’t handled with the utmost care and respect that Edgerton gave it. After Midnight Special it appears that him and Nichols make quite the team.
Everything is secondary to our two main characters, even the cinematography employs a ‘fly on the wall’ approach. The complete opposite to other films based on civil rights. This is not The Help, nor is it Hidden Figures. It’s all about Richard and Mildred Loving, and it’s deeply personal.
Jeff Nichols is an indie force to be reckoned with, and I’m eager to see where his career goes next.