Friday, November 4, 2016

Movie with Abe: Loving

Directed by Jeff Nichols
Released November 4, 2016

The civil rights movement holds a very recent place in United States history, and for all the racial inequality that still exists today, such discrimination and hatred were also legal as little as fifty years ago. Segregation was a common practice enforced by many states, and those who refused to be confined to where the society of the day told them they needed to be were dealt with harshly. “Loving” tells the story of a black woman and a white man whose love for each other was simple, and not even the ways of the times were going to stop them from being together.

Mildred (Ruth Negga) and Richard (Joel Edgerton) are introduced already deep into their relationship in 1950s Virginia. Their families are well aware of their romance, and Richard in particular spends plenty of time with people of color, treating them no differently than he would anyone else. When they decide to go to Washington, D.C. to get married, they proudly hang their marriage license on the wall in the home that Richard builds for his wife and the baby they have on the way. Determined to oppress them and prevent any divergence from backwards social norms, the local police arrest the couple and do their very best to keep them apart, ultimately prompting a legal battle involving high authorities to force the state of Virginia to accept the validity of their union.

Jeff Nichols is a director known for his distinctly creative storytelling, with just four feature films to his name, including the chilling “Take Shelter” and the hypnotic “Mud.” This film, based on real events, marks his most normative film yet, still a devotional character piece but one that chooses a magnetic story as its focal point rather than a framing style or worldview. Colorful art direction and purposeful cinematography, as well as a poetic score by Nichols’ regular composer David Wingo augment a compelling tale of love over all. Aussie Edgerton and Negga, best known for her role on action TV series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” are hardly conventional choices for these roles, and Negga’s performance speaks considerably louder than Edgerton’s as she conveys the passion for living the life she wants to that Mildred had. In the supporting cast, comedian Nick Kroll proves a peculiar choice to play lawyer Bernie Cohen, and the film’s lighthearted moments are plentiful. This is a beautiful story about the triumph of love, perseverance, and acceptance, one that’s sweetly told in a good if not great film.


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