Richard Loving, a white construction worker in Caroline County, Virginia, falls in love with a local black woman and family friend, Mildred Jeter. Upon Mildred discovering that she is pregnant, they decide to marry, but knowing that interracial marriage violates Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws, they drive to Washington, D.C. to get married in 1958. Richard makes plans to build a house for Mildred less than a mile from her family home..
Before their 1967 Supreme Court victory, Mildred and Richard Loving had two years earlier lost a lower-court appeal of their conviction for violating the Virginia law against interracial marriage. The judge who refused to vacate that conviction, Caroline County Circuit Court Judge Leon M. Bazile, wrote in his decision that "almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his [arrangement] there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix." See more »
When the Lovings are walking with their lawyer to the Caroline County courthouse in Bowling Green in January 1959 to enter their guilty plea, they walk in front of the Bowling Green Post Office. The sign on the Post Office building includes the Bowling Green ZIP Code (22427). ZIP Codes were not introduced until 1963. See more »
Ooh! My Head
Written and Performed by Ritchie Valens
Published by Sony/ATV
by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing and Warner Tamberlane Music
Courtesy of Rhino Entertainment Company
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing See more »
Greetings again from the darkness. Imagine you are sound asleep in bed with your significant other. It's the middle of the night. Suddenly, the sheriff and his deputies crash through your bedroom door with pistols drawn and flashlights blinding you. You are both taken into custody. For most of us, this would be a terrible nightmare. For Mildred and Richard Loving, it was their reality in June of 1958. Their crime was not drug-dealing, child pornography, or treason. Their crime was marriage. Interracial marriage.
Writer/director Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter) proves again he has a distinct feel and sensitivity for the southern way. There is nothing showy about his style, and in fact, his storytelling is at its most effective in the small, intimate moments he goes quiet where other filmmakers would go big. Rather than an overwrought political statement, Nichols keeps the focus on two people just trying to live their life together.
Joel Edgerton plays Richard Loving, a bricklayer and man of few words. Ruth Negga plays Mildred, a quietly wise and observant woman. Both are outstanding in delivering understated and sincere performances (expect Oscar chatter for Ms. Negga). These are country folks caught up in Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924, though as Richard says, "we aren't bothering anyone". The counterpoint comes from the local Sheriff (an intimidating Martin Csokas) who claims to be enforcing "God's Law".
Nichols never strays far from the 2011 documentary The Loving Story from Nancy Buirski, who is a producer on this film. When the ACLU-assigned young (and green) lawyer Bernard Cohen (played with a dose of goofiness by Nick Kroll) gets involved, we see how the case hinges on public perception and changing social mores. Michael Shannon appears as the Life Magazine photographer who shot the iconic images of the couple at home a spread that presented the Lovings not as an interracial couple, but rather as simply a normal married couple raising their kids.
In 1967, the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, unanimously held Virginia's "Racial Integrity Act of 1924" as unconstitutional, putting an end to all miscegenation laws (interracial marriage was still illegal in 15 states at the time). In keeping with the film's direct approach, the Supreme Court case lacks any of the usual courtroom theatrics and is capped with a quietly received phone call to Mildred.
Beautiful camera work from cinematographer Adam Stone complements the spot on setting, costumes and cars which capture the look and feel of the era (over a 10 year period). Nichols forsakes the crowd-rallying moments or even the police brutality of today's headlines, but that doesn't mean there is any shortage of paranoia or constant concern. We feel the strain through these genuine people as though we are there with them. The simplicity of Richard and Mildred belies the complexity of the issue, and is summed up through the words of Mildred, "He took care of me."
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