Director: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Will Dalton
Genre: Drama, Romance
Country of Origin: UK, USA 2016 123 mins. (12A)
Released by Universal Pictures
In 1958 Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) married his pregnant girlfriend Mildred Jeter (Ruth Negga) in Washington DC and returned to his home state of Virginia only to suffer the brutal indignity of a visit in the night and arrest for violating the anti-miscegenation laws. It was 1950s America, racism was taken for granted and theirs was a mixed race marriage. Local attorney Frank Beazley (Bill Camp) pleaded their case and got them off on condition that they couldn't return to Virginia for 25 years. It was a life of exile and constant fear as Richard and Mildred Loving raised a family, dreamt of building their home on the acre of land Richard had brought years back and fought for the right to live together as a family in Virginia.
Richard Loving was a man of few words and it was Mildred who wrote to Attorney General Robert Kennedy who appointed lawyer Bernard Cohen (Nick Kroll) to take the landmark civil rights case which in 1967 went to the Supreme Court. When the lawyers ask Richard Loving what they should say to the Supreme Court he replies with a line that sums the power and emotion of this story - 'Tell the judge I love my wife.' The Supreme reaffirmed the very foundation of the right to marry.
Jeff Nichols' effective low-key straight forward directorial approach matches Richard and Mildred Loving, quiet, conservative and dignified in the face of racism. The leads are terrific and it's Ruth Negga who wins the day. She's outstanding. There aren't any lengthy speeches or violence. A brick wrapped in newspaper and placed on Richard Loving's car seat, gestures, looks, whispered comments say it all. Intolerance, bitterness and ignorance were accepted as the norm. And what of those who reported Richard and Mildred Loving? 'Loving' is a hugely important and emotional story relevant to our times.