“Loving” is a recreation of the events surrounding Loving v. Virginia, the landmark Supreme Court case that nullified any state law prohibiting interracial marriage. I appreciate that a clean movie was able to sneak its way into Oscar contention. The themes of racism are strong but they are delivered without graphic sexual content or strong profanity. The writers didn’t even depend on an excessive use of the n-word to engage our emotions against racism, as has become a common trend in films of the past five years. Granted, you couldn’t accurately make “12 Years A Slave” without that word, but it obviously wasn’t necessary to bring this story to life. The overall pacing of the story is slow and depends on the actors to bring energy to the picture. Ruth Negga received critical approval with an Oscar nomination and she portrays the character well, but I found her performance to be too passive to really wow me. The real shining star in this film is Joel Edgerton with a completely transformation in how he carries of his body in order to portray Richard Loving. His hunched over posture, clipped speaking, and constant state of exhaustion embodies a hardworking bricklayer and makes the Australian actor totally unrecognizable. Marton Csokas’ unique interpretation of the sheriff takes the villainy out of him because he wasn’t being a racist – he just had the same beliefs about marriage as everyone else. Nick Kroll looks like a cross between Jimmy Fallon and Jeff Goldblum, which made his performance as lawyer Bernie Cohen a little too goofy for the tone of the film. I think that it was very appropriate for this movie about an interracial marriage to be filmed in the same county where the Lovings were once imprisoned for their marriage. My viewing experience was a bit odd because I expected it to be more of a love story than a historical drama. Still, “Loving” does a good job of telling this story in a way that will stick with us. The romantic moments are few and far between but the message of love triumphing over all is strong and constant.
[Pictured: The Life magazine sequence is one of the most memorable from the film]