“… a movie that is not very exciting, but it is very important.”
I finally had the chance to see Loving yesterday, and it was pretty much what I expected. Loving is the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who were married in 1958 but then arrested and kicked out of their home because of it. The film follows the Lovings as they live their lives and eventually set legal precedent that changed the lives of many.
When I say that Loving is exactly what I expected its because I was warned by many people before I had a chance to see the film who mainly said that Loving is a very slow movie, and they were completely right. Before I get into my dislikes, let’s talk about what I liked about Loving. Loving is a film written and directed by Jeff Nichols, of whom I‘m a huge fan. This means that Loving features a brilliants script, wonderful performances, and beautiful directing. I hate to do this, but I feel that I have praised Nichols’ work before so I won’t really get into it. One thing I will get into however is the score. Loving features a score that I can only describe as very minimal, but also very beautiful. It is there to accent the dramatic moments and really immerse you into the story. The performances were also phenomenal. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga both do absolutely amazing jobs playing their respective parts as the Lovings. You also have great supporting performances by not only the friends and allies of the Loving family, but also the police and and judges who were the ‘villains’ of the story. Honestly Loving was an absolutely beautiful film to experience.
Unfortunately that’s not where my review ends however, because though I was warned about the snail’s pace that Loving seems to take I still feel the need to discuss it. Now Loving is a film about a precedent-setting legal case that changed the world (or at least America), but it’s not really about that. As a matter of fact, the actual court proceedings take place offscreen. No, Loving is a film that is much more about the people involved than the story that they are a part of. In Loving we get to see the true love that this couple has for one another. Even though the world at the time was divided by race, they didn’t care because they loved each other. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough there to make a movie in my opinion. Once we get that these people truly love each other, I was left waiting for the next thing to happen and it never did. Sure we get to meet a lot of wonderful characters that add some flavour into the plot, but for the most part we are just watching the Loving family live their life. Loving is a movie that spans ten years, but the problem is that nothing happens in the middle. They get married, 10 years pass, and then they win a court case. I understand that I’m simplifying a lot, and I mean no disrespect by it, but that plot doesn’t lend itself to a movie that well. Maybe if the film was about the actual legal procedure than it would have been one thing, but it wasn’t.
Loving could have been tweaked a bit more to add some fat into the story. For example, throughout the film I never felt afraid for the main characters aside from one or to times. They were an interracial married couple in a time when that was literally illegal, and yet it didn’t seem like anyone cared. I understand that it would be in bad taste to embellish a true story with a bunch of shit that never happened, but I’m sure they must have had at least one other encounter where they were scared for their safety. And because it didn’t feel like the film had very many stakes, the ending didn’t have the punch that it should have. What was accomplished was a huge fucking deal at the time, but when the scene rolls around in the film I couldn’t help but feel indifferent. And also, the ending of the film featured a blurb of text that said something along the lines of “Mildred never liked speaking to the press, and she was reluctant to call herself a hero..”, but the character that we were shown in the film was almost the complete opposite of that. I wasn’t aware of the Loving’s story before I saw the film, but in the movie Mildred is the one spear-heading the whole operation. She’s doing interviews and calling lawyers, and I think at one point she even says something to the effect of “think of how many people we can help” (in regards to them setting a legal precedent). Like I said, I don’t have a leg to stand on because I’m sure Jeff Nichols did a lot of research for the film, but that little blurb at the end seemed to contradict everything we had seen before.
Loving is a movie that is not very exciting, but it is very important. It has wonderful acting, beautiful directing, and a story that everyone should hear (despite it being a little slow at times).
I give Loving a B