STARRNG: JOEL EDGERTON; RUTH NEGGA; NICK KROLL; MICHAEL SHANNON
DIRECTED BY: JEFF NICHOLS
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)
The opening shot of Loving focuses on the gaze between two people in love and in the room it is completely silent. It is evident, that director Jeff Nichols has in this moment, captured the personification of what love is all about in one perfect shot, and that continues throughout his superb new film. Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga) created their own path to the 1958 landmark supreme court battle of Loving v. Virginia, which allowed interracial couples to legally marry in any state. Loving is not just an ordinary bio-pic of the events that took place, but the embodiment of what it actually means- to love.
Our two main subjects are the rare type of people to have a movie made about them. What they achieved was important to the institution of marriage then and today for the LGBT community. If the Loving's had it their way, they would have never been forced into the situation of fighting the Supreme Court in the first place. Mildred is expecting their first child, as they take their love to Washington D.C. to get married, only because it is the one place they could go to make it official without persecution. What follows, is a chilling stint in jail and the couple accepting a ban from Virginia that will rock the foundation of their family.
Together, they are a couple of peas in a pod, cuddling in a car at back road drag race, and enjoying drinks with friends. Richard is a hard working, soft-spoken brick layer. A blue collar man, played with a steel reserve by Edgerton, whose performance expresses his love through the callouses on his hands and with a glance of his eyes. Mildred is the glue of the relationship, played spectacularly by Ruth Negga. She is everything about the film that I love. Her style is elegant with precision and grace. It is easy to see that these two love each other, while the world outside them sees the color of their skin, these two only see each other.
The enormous amount of praise for Loving belongs to writer/director Jeff Nichols. Not only is this a phenomenal film, this is his second 4 Star rating in the same year from me. I don't know of many directors that have done that, but earlier this yearMidnight Special wowed audiences with his homage to Steven Spielberg, in a touching tale about a families struggle with a very unique child. That message of family is present again here, only this time, he captures the calm and honest moments with his narrative. The camera softly studies the surroundings, with eloquent cinematography from Adam Stone, catching the sun that peaks through the kitchen, while Mildred folds laundry and Richard works on the car. It is in the simple moments that we see the beauty of their relationship.
I know complaints about Loving will be said on the films pace, as it may feel slow to some, but what Nichols asks of you is patience. When the process of the legal case arrives we meet their provided legal council-Bernie Cohen (played by a surprisingly daring cast choice-Nick Kroll), who arrives as a bit of levity to a dire situation. In this film, there are not going to be a cliched court room moments or a melodramatic finale. Loving is a film that stays consistent and steady.
Loving is the most romantic film of the year. There's a strong chance that both of Nichols films land on “best of the year” lists, which all but solidifies that he is one of the best directors working today. There is so much more to praise, including a hopeful Oscar nomination for Negga who lights up every scene. What Mildred and Richard Loving did for this country is something that many of us will never truly appreciate, but the greatest gift that they were able to give, is a larger than life example of what true love really looks like. Loving will make you cry and it's one of the most beautiful films of 2016.
Written by: Leo Brady