I first saw the commercial for this film on Election Day and thought it looked excellent. I’m a bit of a history buff, but for some reason the case of the Loving’s slipped my mind. This film is about a couple who endured rough times where interracial marriage was illegal. The story is based on the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case. While I don’t find the film to be fantastic, I thought the performances all around and a few of Jeff Nichol’s film techniques really made this film an enjoyable experience.
The opening is extremely powerful. The film opens in silence as you see the couple sitting and deeply pondering. You see the pain in their face as they know what they must face in the world around them. I think this film has really powerful but subtle performances by Edgerton and Negga. Edgerton is damn near unrecognizable and a force as the soft spoken Richard Loving. An even bigger force was Ruth Negga. She doesn’t have to do a whole lot because things come naturally to her. Every expression on her face conveys a statement and even in her silence you can see so much of her character coming to life. I haven’t really seen Ruth Negga in anything else but I’m certain she will have a great future. Its a soft, understated performance but boy is it a really good one. She definitely deserves her Best Actress Oscar nomination.
The other aspect of the film that really contributed to its enjoyment, was the style of Jeff Nichols. Nichols usually focuses on families and the turmoil and how they endure life. This was the case in his previous efforts, Take Shelter and Midnight Special. Nichols’ films also are set in a rural area. This film differs in subject matter to his previous sci-fi dominant efforts, however the slow burning technique and powerhouse performances are all there. The film even utilizes Michael Shannon, who has become a veteran in Nichol’s employ. There are also other moments where a powerful score just elevates the scene.
While the film isn’t perfect and is not making my top ten films list of the year, I’d say the endearing performances and characters full of dimension really make the film worthwhile. If you are a fan of Nichols’ craft, you won’t be disappointed. This is a vast improvement after Midnight Special couldn’t really follow up a really good Take Shelter. This film may have started my love for all things Ruth Negga.