Jeff Nichols (director)
03 February 2017 (released)
03 February 2017
Jeff Nichols' latest film, Loving, tells the real story of Richard Loving, played by Joel Edgerton, a white man, and a black woman, Mildred Jeter, masterfully played by Ruth Negga.
The story of the Lovings epitomizes a divided America, one that very much resonates with today's debates and politics. It is the story of 1950s Virginia, where Jim Crow's racist laws were still sovereign in an America made of biased looks and the lack of freedom to choose who to love. Because of this, the couple gets married in Washington D.C., but the two soon realise they will not be welcome back to Virginia as husband and wife, and parents-to-be.
One night, as the lie asleep, the sheriff irrupts in their house and arrests both of them. This is only the beginning of a 9-year-journey towards freedom and equality. A journey that will take them to the Supreme Court and change America. In the fight to freedom, the couple takes different ways of approaching the case. Negga's Mildred shines, she is fierce and stubborn, she will not accept to leave under someone else's terms, and she demands the freedom to love her husband and live peacefully with their children.
Richard, who is given a poetic depth by Edgerton, just wants to love his wife, he doesn't need cameras, papers, notoriety or the Supreme Court. His approach to injustice is intimate as he cannot accept to hear that he is breaking the law just because he loves. And the point of Loving is exactly this, it is thanks to common people who fought against these injustices that the Supreme Court finally made all the segregation laws illegal in 1967.
Nichols is masterful in portraying the simplicity of a feeling, in his treatment of Richard especially. He keeps the eye of his camera always at the right distance, thus letting the narrative unfold by itself, his role as director embodied my Michael Shannon's brief appearance as LIFE magazine's photographer.
However, despite the focus on love, the film tends to hit and miss in creating a couple empathy between characters and audience. The use of repetition and the lenght, clearly splitting the film in two, also could have been re-arranged differently and be more effective given such strong performances and direction.
Technicalities aside, Loving avoids any dramatic presumption, ultimately becoming as beautiful and authentic as love is.