Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Loving - Review

   Something really interesting about Loving is the inherent stress it places on how little the people of Virginia cared about the relationship of a white man and black woman before the wedding rings came into the picture. The sheer fact that a piece of paper can change the perspective from slight side-eyes to actual arrests is incredibly hard to imagine and yet it was a part of that time. Loving illustrates this beautifully, in a subtle and nuanced look at history through the lenses of today’s world.

   Interracial couple Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga) fell in love and married in 1958. They grew up in Central Point, a small town in Virginia that was more integrated than surrounding areas in the American South. Yet it was the state of Virginia, where they were making their home and starting a family that first jailed and then banished them. Richard and Mildred relocated with their children to the inner city of Washington, D.C., but the family ultimately tries to find a way back to Virginia.

   Naturally, the story here is one that deserves to be told in one way or another, but the way it’s presented in Loving feels like the best possible interpretation. There doesn’t seem to be any embellishing or exaggeration, nor sweeping speeches to gain that coveted award nomination for the actors involved. It’s slow and steady, to a fault at times, and doesn’t attempt to deliver any large moral or statement, it just tells this fundamentally interesting story about a couple.

   Anchored by two brilliant performances from its leads, Loving establishes its title couple as human beings first rather than movies characters. They aren’t entitled or boasting, but quiet and reserved even when everything surrounding them isn’t. Edgerton, aided by Jeff Nichols’ dialogue, is able to deliver on the stubbornness of a man who clearly wants to be left alone, but is still remarkably devoted to his wife and family. The real heart of the film is Ruth Negga as the far more ambitious wife. With very little dialogue overall; Negga is forced to convey her emotions through so many other angles.

      As stated before, Loving is very subtle in its execution and most of that falls upon the work of director Jeff Nichols and his cinematographer Adam Stone. The two manage to make the film feel precise in many ways with each particular shot garnering more attention than the last. There is a sense of patience that often isn’t seen in historical dramas, sensing the tone of the story and crafting the film around that tone.

   Overall, Loving is another film that’s destined to be nominated for numerous awards. It’s not as explosive as other dramas of similar nature but the reverence that the tale of the Loving family is given here is astounding, even if it causes a lack of energy at times. The performances from the leads are the anchor for the picture as a whole and without them the film could be forgotten, but rest assured the reward is worth the viewing experience for a period that doesn’t feel synthetic at all.

   So what did you think of Loving? Have you seen it and where does it rank among Jeff Nichols other stellar films? Subscribe, share, comment below and as always return to I Am Sam for weekly reviews and insight.

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