A moving and uplifting drama about the effects of interracial marriage in the 1960s. Friends since childhood, and loved by both families, this couple are exiled after their wedding and have... See full summary »
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Daniel J. Sullivan
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Maria Grazia Cucinotta,
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A moving and uplifting drama about the effects of interracial marriage in the 1960s. Friends since childhood, and loved by both families, this couple are exiled after their wedding and have to wage a courageous battle to find their place in America as a loving family. Written by
Richard Jones <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Based on the true story that led the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional Virginia's anti-miscegenation law (in Loving v. Virginia, 1967), paving the way for legal interracial marriages. See more »
Realistic telling of a story that needs to be known
People have taken to saying that "only since 1967 has marriage been legal between blacks and whites" in the United States. That is not true. Only a minority of states, such as Virginia, still banned such marriages in 1967, and it was such prohibitions that the court was asked to strike down in the case that inspired this movie. Blacks and whites had been legally marrying elsewhere in America since colonial times. So the Supreme Court was not being asked to "create" interracial marriage in the Loving case.
I've known about the Loving case since I was a child, and I had some doubts about whether I wanted to see a movie about it. For the most part, I think this was a good effort, though far from an excellent one. Doing movies about living people is tricky. In this movie, we are shown naturalistic details that I could have done without; but holes also were left in the narrative that I'm sure would not have been there, paradoxically, if we hadn't been dealing with a true story. Many people could have missed that Richard and Mildred had known each other since childhood, an important detail that's barely mentioned. That country bar or club in the first scene that shows blacks and whites socializing together is never commented upon or explained. Yes, such a place (if run by blacks) could have existed in a time of Jim Crow and when "miscegenation" was a crime in Virginia, but its existence is a paradox, and one that's never explained and would go completely over the heads of most of the people watching. We meet people who are never identified or only identified much later, and not while they're on camera. Richard's family's reaction to his decision to marry Mildred is never dealt with at all. We see his parents only briefly, and they are all but mute. It would have been better to leave them out altogether and have viewers assume Richard was an orphan than to duck this major issue in this way. Most important, I wish we had been given some idea of what kind of man Richard is (for the story really is his) before being plunged into the love story. What motivates him? Why does he choose to marry Mildred instead of merely "keeping" her, an arrangement that his society would have accepted? We never get to know Richard, so these questions are never answered. Still, I would otherwise give high marks to Timothy Hutton's portrayal of Richard. He comes across as a very ordinary man, as no hero--and that's important. The story of Richard Loving is that of an ordinary man, a common man, and therein lies its majesty.
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