I saw LOVING back in November and loved it. I saw LOVING again last week and loved it even more.
As good as Emma and Natalie and Isabel were, I was fervently rooting for Ruth Negga to win the Academy Award for her beautifully poised performance as Mildred Loving, a black woman who had the temerity of accepting a marriage proposal from a white man, Richard Loving, in the state of Virginia, United States of America, 1958.
The United States of America, contrary to its appellation, was not united in everything, as the Appalachian state continued with a miscegenist law about marriage. It was the state of Virginia, where the appropriately named Loving’s were making their home and starting a family, that first terrorised and humiliated them, then jailed them and then banished them for defying its law against interracial marriage.
Banished them! In the late Twentieth Century. In the home of the brave and the land of the free.
Richard and Mildred relocated with their children to the inner city of Washington, D.C. where black relatives made them feel welcome, but, ultimately, the pull of their roots in Virginia would spur Mildred to try to find a way back. Their civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, went all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 1967 reaffirmed the very foundation of the right to marry.
LOVING could have taken the shape of an heroic legal battle, with lawyers at large, a see you later, litigator, get you in a while, a law that is vile.
Jeff Nichols film, however, takes the loving approach to LOVING, an approach that the Loving’s would have loved. Like the quotation from Corinthians,’ LOVING is patient, LOVING is kind’.
The first scene is a close upA of Mildred, silent, contemplative. She has something to say but is hesitant. Finally, she says “I’m pregnant.” Cut to Richard. Silent for seconds, but silence from speechless joy, silence broken by the sincere and succinct, “Good”.
LOVING could have been a grandstanding civil rights brouhaha, but LOVING does not boast, yet it generates two stunning central performances and is filled with genuine and complete supporting cast.
Joel Edgerton as Richard Loving is a quiet, honest, hard working brickie who loves his cars and loves his wife. LOVING is not proud, but this kind of film making has every right to be.
The tenor of LOVING does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
LOVING does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. LOVING always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Writer director Jeff Nichols, his dream team of designers, Chad Keith and Erin Benach, his spectacular cinematographer, Adam Stone, his accomplished composer, David Wingo, and his dedicated cast, have eschewed the irony of the title and made LOVING a living inspiration for all those still fighting for marriage equality.