Celebrations on the 12th of June commemorate Loving Day. The 1967 landmark Supreme Court decision in the case of Loving vs Virginia, was responsible for declaring all laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional in the United States.
Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, Loving is a 2016 drama based on the real life relationship of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) Loving.
It is the simple details portrayed so well by Edgerton and Negga, that really capture the essence of this love story. Soulful longing glances, fingers gently entwined, lingering warm embraces, the film succeeds in allowing the audience to witness a very personal and delicate devotion between Richard and Mildred.
The movie opens with Mildred sitting on the porch, telling an overjoyed Richard Ï'm pregnant".
Deep in the heart of Virginia countryside, there's chevy car racing and good old sing along house parties. Despite it being a period of segregation, everyone appears to get along. Richard shows Mildred an acre field he has bought, where he plans to build their first home, and then asks her to marry him.
Mildred's father advised them there is "less red tape in Washington" (Virginia was one of 24 states where interracial marriage was still illegal) and accompanies them to the registry office where they marry.
When Richard returns home, his mother (Sharon Blackwood) tells him the sheriff is looking for him. A somber and reserved figure, her character feels authentic. In her supporting role, her portrayal is an unfortunate and genuine reflection of mid 50's Southern America.
After a jovial night sharing a meal with Mildred's family, glass can be heard smashing, as the sheriff (Marton Csokas) bursts into the sleeping couple's room. "What are you doing with that woman?" he asks Richard. Mildred replies, "I'm his wife".
The sheriff shines his flashlight onto the marriage certificate that Richard has proudly hung on the wall. "That's no good here." he states before dragging them both off to jail.
Yes Loving is a story about Civil Rights, but it is much more personal than that. Nicolas has chosen to focus on the very intimate relationship between Richard and Mildred. Their emotions raw and real, have by far the greatest impact in effectively showing the cruel and degrading obstacles faced as an inter-racial couple.
Ruth Negga delivers an honest and emotional performance. Fully capturing the anguish and frustration of her character, her transition into the mother figure and pillar of her family is well received. Negga is the heart of this movie and carries the weight of creating an emotional bond with the audience
Joel Edgerton while appearing in her shadows, is merely because Richard is less emotional a character. His talent relies on his ability to convey Richard's love for Mildred in his quiet and humble fashion. His silence speaks loudly of the pain and frustration in his eyes, as things become increasingly difficult for the pair.
As an inter-racial couple, the Lovings spent nine years fighting for the right to live as a family in their hometown. An ugly truth now counter acted by Loving Day - the biggest multiracial celebration in the United States.
3.5 out of 5 starts.