Loving

A Jeff Nichols film. In eng­lish with ger­man subtitles

Mildred and Richard Loving were arres­ted in 1958 for the crime of get­ting mar­ried. According to the sta­te of Virginia, she was „colo­red,” he was „white,” and their mar­ria­ge was ille­gal. Both were sen­ten­ced to a year in pri­son — a sen­tence that was only sus­pen­ded on the con­di­ti­on that they lea­ve Virginia. The cou­p­le fought that judgment befo­re the US Supreme Court, which ulti­mate­ly ruled in their favour, brin­ging an end to Virginia’s anti-mis­ce­ge­na­ti­on laws. This inspi­ring film from Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter) tells Mildred and Richard’s sto­ry of romance and injus­ti­ce with ten­der­ness and wisdom.

The Civil Rights move­ment is still in its infan­cy when Richard (Joel Edgerton), a con­struc­tion worker, pro­po­ses to Mildred (Ruth Negga) on the same Virginia acreage whe­re he plans to build their home. It should be the begin­ning of a blissful peri­od, but trou­ble is alrea­dy brewing. Someone informs the aut­ho­ri­ties of Richard and Mildred’s uni­on. It is not long befo­re poli­ce break down the couple’s door and drag them off to the coun­ty jail. They face this indi­gni­ty with stoi­cism, but the worst is yet to come.

Edgerton is taci­turn but vul­nerable, using body lan­guage to trans­mit both fero­cious love and righ­te­ous outra­ge. Negga is not­hing less than a reve­la­ti­on, con­vey­ing tur­bu­lent emo­ti­ons with a glance. The sub­t­le power of the­se per­for­man­ces is heigh­te­ned by Nichols‘ refu­sal to redu­ce his sto­ry to spee­ches and high dra­ma. In kee­ping with David Wingo’s sombre score, Nichols does­n’t push sen­ti­ment. He allows his cha­rac­ters‘ sto­ry to steep for grea­ter resonance.

Loving does not revi­sit histo­ry merely to flat­ter the pre­sent. Rather, it reco­gni­zes how far we’­ve come while impli­ci­tly remin­ding us how far we still have to go.

USA 2016, 123 Min., engl. OmU

Regie & Buch: Jeff Nichols
Kamera: Adam Stone 
Schnitt: Julie Monroe

mit: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Michael Shannon, Marton Csokas