Loving tells the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), the interracial couple who took on Virginia and changed the United States Constitution.
Negga’s performance in the role is strong enough to garner an Oscar nomination.
Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, the cast includes Edgerton, Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, Terri Abney, Alano Miller, Jon Bass, and Michael Shannon. We are taken back in time to the late 1950s when it was considered illegal for a white person to marry an African-American. Set in Central Point, a small town in Virgina, the Lovings get married in Washington, DC, in 1958. They eventually get arrested and exiled from their hometown and state of Virginia for 25 years.
Forced to relocated to inner DC, the Lovings just never truly felt comfortable there and wished to move back home to Central Point. In 1963, Mildred writes a letter to Bobby Kennedy and it gets referred to the American Civil Liberties Union, who refers the case to Bernard Cohen (Kroll). Cohen is assisted by civil rights attorney Philip Hirschkop (Bass). Both attorneys work the case pro bono.
They would soon find their civil rights case in the historic Loving v. Virginia lawsuit. In June 1967, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that marriage was a right and struck down the anti-miscegenation laws with Chief Justice Earl Warren writing the opinion: “Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.”
Richard would later be killed by a drunk driver some seven years following their court victory.
The movie was inspired by The Loving Story, a documentary that played the festival circuit before airing on HBO in 2012. Nancy Buirski’s documentary captivated both audiences and critics. It caught the attention of actor Colin Firth. Firth and producer Ged Doherty were determined to make a feature film based on the documentary.
“The love between two people was what impacted me emotionally,” Nichols says. “Out of that grows the other importance of the story, which is the Supreme Court decision. I believe that any time we can be reminded of the elegance and the simple beauty of love, it’s a good thing.”
While the court case alone could be a film in its own right, Nichols was wise to focus more on the love story.
After premiering at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival in May, Focus Features opened the film on November 4th.