Loving (2016)
December 14, 2016 4:08 AM - Subscribe

A film about Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), the interracial couple whose 1958 marriage eventually overturned anti-miscegenation laws in the United States. Currently at 89%/79% at Rotten Tomatoes. The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern: "the most daring part of this wonderful film...is its calmness." Written and directed by Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter).
posted by mediareport (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Really liked the understated way the story focuses on the couple and not the court case. Instead of cliched climactic courtroom battles (after the initial arrests, there is close to zero time in a courtroom in this movie), we get episodic looks at the Loving's marriage over time, anchored by increasingly fascinating quiet performances by Negga and Edgerton - e.g., the poised elegance Negga develops as she begins speaking to the press while her husband is pulled along grudgingly, which is shown via a couple of quick moments that beautifully capture her strength, perhaps with a touch of vanity as well.

I get the criticisms that "Nichol's understated approach deflects melodramatic pitfalls but...keeps us at arm’s length." It's certainly possible to imagine a more broadly emotional approach to the material of an extended 10-year legal struggle, and the "pacing issues" that review mentions are a legit point. But we left the theater thinking, "wow, that was a really good movie for grownups" and "both leads deserve Oscar nominations." I'd put Jeff Nichols in the running for directing, too.
posted by mediareport at 4:35 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I left the moving thinking that Negga's and Edgerton's acting was fantastic, but being frustrated by just how measured the film was. And I thought that it was, actually, entirely plot-driven in the sense that it focuses on their run-ins with the laws, but never once, say, a discussion between Mildred and Richard about what this was doing to their kids, or what they imagined for their kids' futures... I get that they were trying to go for the whole, "they weren't trying to be activists, they just wanted to live their lives," but still, more interiority and exchange between the two was lacking. There are two separate scenes where we get the families' disapproval--Mildred's sister and Richard's mother saying they wish the two hadn't gotten together--and it's all somehow smoothed over by the next scene with each of them, again paving over the kind of work for understanding or reconciliation that must go one when your mother says that you shouldn't have married someone (but will go on to deliver her grandchild anyway). My final takeaway was essentially that I was convinced that the Lovings, er, loved each other deeply, but I had no idea why.

I deeply appreciate that the movie was made and I'm glad that it's getting good buzz, but I found it falling frustratingly short.
posted by TwoStride at 5:07 PM on December 14, 2016

I think that the movie makes clear that Richard Loving was a man most comfortable expressing himself physically rather than verbally.
posted by brujita at 5:35 PM on December 14, 2016

I was disappointed. I didn't get a sense of conflict and struggle and fighting for their relationship at all. Mildred and Richard never defended their love from criticism, they just took the criticism, and existed.

And, frankly, I was shocked by the lack of stronger language from the vehemently racist judge and sheriff. It felt like Nichols was deliberately avoiding using the n-word in places where it would have been.
posted by graventy at 7:20 AM on December 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

I liked how quiet it was. I thought Richard and Mildred's love, and their fight for just wanting to be together, was shown in their gestures towards one another - putting their foreheads together, her sitting on his lap, etc. I didn't need more.

What really overwhelmed me was how recent this all was, in the grand scheme of things - less than 60 years. Oof.
posted by minsies at 6:52 PM on December 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

I haven't seen the movie myself yet, but I did watch the Double Toasted video review, which had similar differing perspectives about the effectivness of its understated tone to some people here.
posted by Wandering Idiot at 2:42 PM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

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