Loving, rated PG-13
Starring Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Nick Kroll, Michael Shannon
Austin Family Critical Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Austin Family Family-Friendly Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Loving is as restrained and heartfelt as movies come. Admittedly, I have more than a little inherent bias toward the film – filmmaker Nancy Buirski, for whom I’ve worked over the last few years, is a producer on the film, and Loving is based on her acclaimed documentary The Loving Story. But provided I’m as big a fan of director Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter, Midnight Special) as they come, this is already a movie I was inclined to love, and I was unsurprisingly moved by every moment.
The film concerns the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), an interracial married couple from Virginia who travel to Washington, DC, to marry in 1958 and are subsequently arrested back in Virginia for the crime of being married.
Though the Lovings are decidedly not activists, a young lawyer (Nick Kroll) brings their case to the Supreme Court, and Loving v. Virginia ultimately overturns anti-miscegenation laws forbidding interracial marriage all over the country.
Perhaps what makes the film so powerful is the fact that it’s first and foremost a subtle and moving love story, in which the political implications of the case take a backseat to the turmoil this newfound attention brings to the couple. The characters, as beautifully portrayed by Edgerton and Negga, don’t aspire to make history – they simply love and care for each other deeply.
There’s little in the way of big speeches and the kinds of theatrics we’ve come to expect from historical biopics, and instead a story told through small looks and glances. Edgerton and Negga’s performances feel authentic to the bone – if you’ve seen The Loving Story, you’ll have an even better sense of how well these actors embody the Lovings.
The film is also concerned with the protection of family, a theme that runs through all of Nichols’s work, from Take Shelter to Midnight Special. History doesn’t occur in broad strokes, but in small moments of profound beauty, and Loving wisely recognizes that the everyday lives of two people who truly love each other offers a more powerful depiction of equality than a more obvious legal procedural. Loving is a quiet, masterful film that speaks volumes, and I’m proud to have worked with one of the filmmakers who brought this magnificent story to life.
Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.