I'm pregnant. Eighteen-year-old Mildred Dolores Jeter, told her 24-year-old boyfriend, Richard Perry Loving. His response, "That's fine." A few days later he decides that they should get married.
This is a situation that has played out, uneventfully, countless number of times: Boy meets girl, girl gets pregnant, and they get married. But this situation was different in some very important ways: It was 1958. Mildred (Ruth Negga) was black. Richard (Joel Edgerton) was white. And they lived in Virginia. And their getting married was illegal. But it wasn't clear if they even knew it. Richard explained to Mildred it would be less paperwork to get married in D.C. So they drove to the nation's capital where they said their vows with Mildred's father witnessing. Afterwards, they returned to Mildred's parents' home in Central Point, Virginia where they would live. At 2:00 am some weeks later, the sheriff and his deputies burst into the Jeter's home, stormed into the young couple's bedroom and arrested them. Loving tells the story of the couple's momentous efforts to have their union recognized in Virginia.
While portions of the film, Loving, drags like toilet paper stuck to a shoe, the historical lessons, strong performances and poignant story makes this a See It!
I have an affinity for movies based on actual events. Especially stories about unlikely heroes. And there are probably no more unlikely world-changers than Mildred and Richard. Two very ordinary individuals whose families had been bound by a long friendship. Socializing and working together. Among their circle, their dating and getting married seemed natural and reasonable. As if they were oblivious to the cultural and more importantly, the legal norms, of the 1950s south.
However, there were some family members questioning their judgment once the legal problems set in. They also learned that the system didn't treat equally. Richard was released after one day in jail and despite being pregnant, Mildred remained behind bars for five days.
While the "story" is the star of the film, the cast is nevertheless, exceptional. Interestingly, both leads Edgerton and Negga are foreign born. Edgerton was born in Australia and Negga in Ethiopia and reared in Ireland. There is some well-deserved Oscar buzz surrounding both performances.
Jeff Nichols wrote and directed Loving. Nichols, a white man from Arkansas, shot the film in 35 mm giving it the visual quality of a movie from that time period. He also opted to focus on the ebbs and flows of Mildred's and Richard's relationship and not the lengthy legal entanglements. However, that focus on them includes a lot of casual conversation resulting in the film being slow in some parts. Ultimately, Nichols must be commended for the way he brings this story to life.
Loving is a fascinating production that captures the lengths people will go when driven by one of the strongest of human emotions – love.
Finally, the irony of the couple having the surname "Loving" cannot go unmentioned.
The movie is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and is two hours and three minutes. And it's a See It!
- Published in Movie Reviews