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..
Director Jeff Nichols was able to tell the story of the Loving family as accurately as possible by relying on Nancy Buirski's documentary The Loving Story (2011), which captured many details of their private lives: "We had this beautiful documentary footage unearthed from the mid-'60s where we got to go into their home and see them and watch them," Nichols said. Because much of the dialogue actually comes straight from the documentary, the Writer's Branch of the AMPAS determined that Loving (2016) should compete in the 'Adapted Screenplay' category of the Academy Awards.  See more »
When Mildred finishes sewing part of a garment, she yanks it away from the machine, then she reaches for the scissors. When sewing on a machine, one never yanks at the fabric, at least not without carefully pinching the area just sewn. Otherwise, the area just sewn puckers, plus a lot of thread is pulled off the spool and the bobbin, and thus wasted. 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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