Written and directed by Greg Nichols, this film recounts the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple whose interracial marriage was ruled illegal by the state of Virginia in 1958, banning them from the state and sending their lives into constant turmoil. Put on probation with the threat of 25 years in prison if they were caught together in Virginia, they were forced to live a good portion of their married life in exile.
The movie covers their lives from the time they decide to get married due to Mildred’s pregnancy, through the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage unconstitutional in 1967. So that’s nine years that two people lived their lives in America as convicted criminals simply for being two consenting adults who married.
The law banning interracial marriage was abolished in many other states as a result of the ruling, and the Loving case was used as an argument in last year’s ruling to allow for same sex marriage.
Simply put, when it comes to the institution of marriage and what it stands for here in the states, you might not ever find a more historically important couple than Richard and Mildred Loving.
Joel Edgerton, who delivered a terrific performance in Midnight Special (also directed by Nichols and released this year) is a sure Oscar contender as Richard. His face is one of constant pain and confusion, as if always saying “Really, you have to be kidding me!” The moments when Richard gets to smile and laugh in the film are like drinking a pitcher of iced water while another is being poured over you on a 110-degree day. Ruth Negga, a relatively unknown actress, is equally wonderful as Mildred, a woman who must sneak the birth of her baby in Virginia under the stress of possible arrest. Like Edgerton, hers is a performance of quiet reserve, made all the more powerful by her expressive face.