Sunday, October 23, 2016

'Loving' Tells True Story Of 1958 Interracial Love

By Darlene Donloe

In 1958, two people fell in love and got married. It happens all the time. No big deal, right?  Wrong! It was a very big deal.

You see, Richard was a white man. His bride, Mildred, was a Negro. Their interracial love and then marriage was taboo in Virginia at the time.

Ironically, the couple’s last name is, of all things, Loving.

The true story of the couple’s relationship and, ultimate groundbreaking Supreme Court ruling, is told in the Focus Feature film, Loving, out in select cities November 4.

The movie opens in 1958, when the couple is dating.  When Mildred gets pregnant, Richard takes her to Washington, D.C. where they are legally able to get married. The only problem is, Virginia doesn’t recognize the marriage and jails the couple upon their return.  

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton portray Mildred and Richard Loving

The local court rules that the couple can’t reside in the state of Virginia at the same time for the next 25 years.  If they do return, they will be jailed for one year. Theirs was a forbidden love.

The problems continue for years until the couple gets a call from a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who wants to take their case to the Supreme Court.

The result is the 1967 civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia. It that year the Supreme Court reaffirmed the very foundation of the right to marry, making the Loving’s love story an inspiration to couples everywhere.

(l-r) Alano Miller, Terri Abney, Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton star in Loving

The film celebrates the real-life courage and commitment of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), who married and then spent the next nine years fighting for the right to live as a family in their hometown.

Director Jeff Nichols has created an impactful film that successfully creates a feel for the times.  He gets solid performances out of his entire cast led by Joel Edgerton (Richard Loving) and Ruth Negga (Mildred Loving).

Negga delivers a performance that reveals a quiet strength and headstrong resolve. It brings Mildred’s personality to life. All she wants is to love her man and raise their three children in her hometown of Central Point, Virginia. Edgerton’s portrayal of Richard, a low-key-don’t-want-to-make-waves construction worker, is emotional and understated.  The chemistry between Negga and Edgerton is palpable.

The real Mildred and Richard Loving

The movie is quietly powerful. Surprisingly, it doesn’t even come close to showing the fury and unrighteousness of the time. Very little anger is shown on the part of the Black people, or Negroes, during a time that considered them less than.  While it did show white law enforcement being rather indignant about the Loving’s relationship, it didn’t convey the outrage on the part of the rest of the white population. There was no real violence or name-calling.  Instead, Nichols’ period piece slowly unwraps an effective, sensitive story that came to literally change the face of America.

Loving stars Joel Edgerton (The Gift, The Great Gatsby, Kinky Boots) and Ruth Negga (AMC’s Preacher, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and is directed by Jeff Nichols (“Midnight Special”, “Mud”, “Take Shelter”). It also stars Terri Abney, Alano Miller, Michael Shannon, Nick Kroll, Sharon Blackwood and Marton Csokas.


MPAA Rating: PG-13; Running time: 123 min.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (need work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Loving gets an O (oh, yeah).

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