By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is the latest from the mind of Jeff Nichols who brought us the different and touching sci-fi drama Midnight Special.
Now, Nichols is back with biographical drama, Loving. He’s brought Joel Edgerton and Michael Shannon with him from Midnight Special but Ruth Negga plays the leading lady.
Loving is certainly a departure from his last film, but still equally as touching…
Loving tells the story of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga), 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. During their family’s difficult times, the Lovings are arrested, manhandled, and kicked out of their home; even their state.
What struck me with Loving is the similarities between this picture and Jeff Nichols’ 2016 movie, Midnight Special. Even though Loving is a true story of a couple’s struggle and Midnight Special is a fictional tale about a young boy trying to find his rightful home; both have a strong family message and an unconditional love theme.
This is clearly a strength of Nichols’ as he delivers once again with Loving. It’s a difficult story to tell over two hours as so much happens. We see the Lovings fall in love, get married, fall pregnant (3 times), the law condemns them, they move state, they move back, they fight at the supreme court. Nichols keeps this film disciplined and moving on two levels. He spends enough time with each deep moment before moving on, and with the help of incredible lead performances, he keeps audiences wiping tears away with incredible moving sequences and dialogue.
The challenge for filmmakers taking on real-life events is how to show each step in the story. This seems to be a breeze for Jeff. Loving is informative whilst continually being entertaining. This is another piece of déjà vu with Midnight Special as that too is incredibly moving but also keeps you on the edge of your seat, plus; both Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton star in it to keep consistency.
The two leads, Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, turn in a couple of career-best performances. Ruth Negga received an Oscar nomination for her outstanding and subtle portrayal of Mildred. She’s a strong female character and certainly an independent woman. She is the one that talks to the lawyers, organises everything in her marriage and raises their children. Negga is captivating on screen and award-worthy.
Edgerton is great support as Richard Loving to Negga’s Mildred. He’s a lot more dependent on Mildred than a man probably should have been in those times. She mothers him just as much as her children at times. He is extremely loving towards his wife, he’s more affectionate to Mildred than she is to him. It’s refreshing to see that on screen from a couple in the 1960s.
Overall, Nichols’ Loving succeeds because it is extremely personable. Every man and his wife and family just want to live their life as they wish. With Nichols at the helm, he makes sure the film hits the right notes and strikes a chord with every viewer. Edgerton and Negga are as powerful as the film is a triumph.
Cineroom’s Rating: 4 Stars
Loving is currently showing at the Phoenix Leicester cinema – certificate 12A