Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: November 4, 2016 Released by: Focus Features
It's been another good year for director Jeff Nichols after delving in a little sci-fi (see his Midnight Special) with this true, beautifully rendered account covering a decade from the late '50s to late '60s regarding interracial marriage. One that's been covered on the small-screen with Timothy Hutton and Lela Rochon some two decades ago.
Loving chronicles the strife of spouses in a more subdued way than a major studio would go about it during the prevailing wave of the civil rights movement as arrest and exile leads the white Richard and black Mildred (with the eponymous surname) into the ACLU and finally the Supreme Court. The albino-looking Richard has to deal with an unfriendly, bigoted sheriff (Marton Csokas) in what moves from rural Virginia to Washington D.C.
In secondary roles Bill Camp appears as an attorney and Michael Shannon as a Life photographer, the latter what amounts to a cameo, are familiar to those who've seen other movies from the writer/director. They are involved in the Loving's milieu as a blue-collar family strides to create a normal household without basking in the hoopla or limelight.
What deserves to reach a larger audience because of the detailed approach to storytelling and character if the oppressive effects on relational bonds or through the judicial system may have a vagueness about still resonates mostly because of Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as the leads.
Both acquiesce to the tone and presentation of the material with tenderness and resiliency as both arcs are palpable, especially with the London-based Ethiopian/Irish Negga making quite an impact with her more proactive Mildred. It's the quiet, intimate moments shared between the two that makes these performances elevate a historical drama with timely precision in tune with Nichols's vision of an influential court case.