Loving - A
Rated PG-13, 123 minutes
The tender, moving and sublimely portrayed new drama "Loving" is about the landmark case that provided legality for interracial couples. The Virginia interracial couple with the actual last name of Loving changed the course of history has been portrayed before in TV movies and documentaries, but this is the first big screen adaptation of it from director and writer Jeff Nichols ("Midnight Special" and "Mud") is one of the year's best films.
In 1958, newlyweds and interracial couple Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) Loving are arrested for being married, which was illegal in Virginia at the time for interracial couples. Nearly 10 years later in 1967, they take their case to the Supreme Court with the help of ACLU lawyer Bernard Cohen (Nick Kroll).
True stories that changed the course of history are often the most compelling, which is the case with Nichols' understated yet superbly acted "Loving," a low-key look at the couple behind the story. Nichols' approach to focusing on the Loving's personal story than trying to take a wider, preachier route, works best here, drawing the audience in to give us a glimpse into their motivations behind the case.
Nggga and Edgerton (from Nichols' "Midnight Special") give excellent, textured performances with the handsomely shot film, and both are worthy (and will likely receive) Oscar nominations. Negga (of TV's "Preacher") and Edgerton play off each other perfectly, and the film survives on their chemistry, as well a solid performance from comedian Kroll as their attorney. Watch for prolific character actor Michael Shannon in a tiny but important role as Life magazine photographer Grey Villet, who captured some candid shots of the couple in 1965 as their case was building.
Nichols also succeeds in giving "Loving" some heft without over-sentimentalizing the Loving's story, which could've been very easy given its subject matter, and that most of the immediate Loving family is no longer alive. The Loving's, whose last name is symbolically used here as the film's title, will forever be remembered as the couple who helped strike down the last of the nation's archaic anti-miscegenation laws. Add the satisfying, moving and poignant "Loving" to your list of films to see this year, you'll be glad you did.