Written & Directed By: Jeff Nichols
Cinematography By: Adam Stone
Editor: Julie Monroe
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Nick Kroll, Will Dalton, Sharon Blackwood, Michael Shannon, Marton Csokas, Bill Camp
The story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, whose challenge of their anti-miscegenation arrest for their marriage in Virginia led to a legal battle that would end at the US Supreme Court.
I believe this so far is the Jeff Nichols movie I have enjoyed the most. As it shows his eye and the range of his talents. Earlier in the year he had a John Carpenter-esque sci-fi film and here he has this penetrating romance. Based on a true story.
What particularly works is that while a social issue film. It is so intimate with the couple that it comes off more as a love story against all odds. Serving more to mood and character than necessarily social change. Allowing the two people at the center to be portrayed more as normal and human rather then martyrs or heroes. Doing this not to change the world but just to be allowed to be together
The film never plays into over dramatizing especially when it comes to the legendary court case. In fact of anything g that is more out on the back burner. As it plays more matter of factory and is really the only thing that is out of step with the film. Which Might be intentional as those scenes are played stale and feel more abrupt and by the book. It would also explain why Nick Kroll seems so bland as their lawyer. He seems by the book, straight laced and stale. Where as the rest of the film feels a bit more soulful. So that the court case becomes a bit of a distraction when it does come up. Though understandingly needed for the story. Though dealt with more as like it has to contractually be there.
While the legal ramifications are in the background and what drives the story. The film goes for more of a human story that examines their day to day existence and background. It’s a romantic film that shows all aspects of love and marriage.
By the end the movie leaves you wanting more. Like it would have been nice to see how the romance was sparked. What initialized it. Instead like more recent bio films we are introduced and thrown in and deal with the couple during a certain amount of time. From their engagement until the Supreme Court justice verdict.
Joel Edgerton gives a more quiet performance here that is more physical. He seems to say things and convey so much through facial expressions and movements. Though his demeanor is that he always seems sad or ashamed never proud. As he is big physically but seems to want to disappear when he is around anyone else but his wife and kids.
It might be that his character is more simple and looked down upon already as his family worked for African-Americans. So he has grown up and has felt comfortable with them most of his life. He doesn’t appear to be an intellectual but he has a good heart. He is smart enough to design and build an house. While also working construction.
Ruth Negga gives a performance of quiet dignity. She is more the vocal do the two but is reserved and more it reverted, but will stand up for herself when needed. She comes off royally throughout the film. At first a damsel In Distress, but as the film continues she seems to draw energy and showcase great strength.
The film luckily showcases the racism but not over the top where almost every character is racist and spitting venom and a member of the klan. If anything one of the films strengths is that most of the characters are rounded and not strictly one note.
If anything the film is more atmospheric and has a tone that is slow yet moving. Though there is good filmmaking on display. It is the acting that truly helps Drive and land the film. You believe it in every part.
It’s a beautiful soulful romantic tale. That places an emphasis on keeping the romance. Even past the marriage that also takes a cultural look and includes a civil rights story that is rather melodramatic and feels stale and dry. But each seems to need one another to feel complete and full. Though the romantic tale would have been fine enough but leaves little to no stakes.
Even though you might know the true story. The film truly helps it come to life and breathes air into it. That you stay fascinated throughout.