Unless you are familiar with the story of the Lovings, you may say this to yourself after watching it. “Why did I not know about any of this before?” Which is exactly what I did.
Loving is the new film from the acclaimed writer/director Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud, Midnight Special). It is based on the real-life story of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), an interracial couple that fell in love and were married in 1958.
After learning that Mildred was pregnant with their first child, the couple travelled to Washington D.C. to get married. They were later arrested and banished from their home in Central Point, a small town in Virginia, for twenty-five years or face one year in prison. This was during a time when interracial marriage was not accepted by every state, especially in the American South.
They were forced to leave their families and relocate to the much urban inner city of Washington D.C., where they stayed with relatives for nearly five years, before secretly moving back to Virginia with their three children.
A year before they move back to Virginia, Mildred writes a letter to United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, asking for assistance. He refers their case to the Washington Chapter of the ACLU where it is assigned to ACLU attorney Bernard Cohen (Nick Kroll). He is later joined on the case by civil rights lawyer, Philip Hirschkop (Jon Bass).
Their civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, goes from the Virginia Supreme Court all the way up to the Supreme Court, which reaffirms the foundation of the right to marry in 1967.
Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga portray the Lovings in such a beautiful way. Neega’s portrayal of Mildred has growth and strength and Edgerton’s portrayal of Richard is a bit more subtle. There are a few scenes where he has hardly any dialogue, but you can sense the emotion and intensity being projected.
There is a scene where Richard finds a page from their Life Magazine article wrapped around a brick in his car, while at the work site. He doesn’t seem to know who put it in there, but I wonder if he found out. Much like when they were secretly married in Washington D.C. The film does not reveal if they ever found out who told the police about their marriage or who put the brick in the car.
Another scene that stands out for me is where Sheriff Brooks is quoted as saying ‘a robin’s a robin, a sparrow is a sparrow,’ and it reminds me of a present day saying of ‘God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.’ It just amazes me at how they are almost similar.
Although this takes place between 1958-1967, its story and issues are very relevant to the current state of affairs in our country right now. Everyone can relate to it. The ban on gay marriage in the United States is having the same court challenges and battles the Lovings went through. The ruling in their favor set the groundwork for equal civil rights for people of all ethnicities and gender orientation in the United States.
Loving is a beautiful, touching and heartwarming drama with historical undertones about civil rights. It is not only a story about love, but unconditional love between two ordinary people that just wanted to live their lives. In the end, they became two very brave people that changed the course of history.
You can view the trailer for Loving here:
Loving stars Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, Terri Abney, Alano Miller, Jon Bass and Michael Shannon. Rated PG-13 and opens Friday, November 4th.
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