Loving is a film about Mildred and Richard Loving; a black woman and white man arrested in 1958 under Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws for the offending act of getting married. As a condition of their bail, the Lovings had to agree to leave Virginia and refrain from returning together for a period of twenty-five years. The separation from their family becomes untenable with the birth of their children, and after their second arrest, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union agrees to represent the couple as it evolves into the landmark case that comes before the Supreme Court.
As screenwriter and director, Jeff Nichols made some smart choices. Visually, Nichols uses numerous pastoral wide shots to convey a quiet, pensive mood that compliments the Lovings’ personalities. By using sparse dialogue, the strength of Loving is carried through Ruth Negga’s and Joel Edgerton’s facial expressions reflecting anguish and torment caused by outside forces assiduously trying to separate them, which takes a toll.
Nichols’ minimalist style is effective in making certain moments more poignant such as when the Lovings lawyer explains the process of presenting arguments before the Supreme Court, and he notes the order where the State of Virginia will have an opportunity to present their defense. In a tone of straightforward sincerity Richard poses a simple question, “What is their defense?” Loving’s message is contained within that question: a law predicated on bigotry is indefensible. The injustice experienced by the Lovings can be applied to other discriminated groups and sadly is a story that resonates all too well in present day.
Strong performances by the cast serve to showcase their talent. Loving is a powerful film worthy of a nomination.