Sometimes the most defiant act you can commit is to just live your life.
That’s the message behind Loving, the story of Richard and Mildred Loving’s fight to have Virginia and the nation accept their interracial marriage.
While other movies have shown some action or drastic measures made by people to improve basic human rights, this movie takes a different turn, showing the marriage itself can be enough to demand change.
[Light Spoilers Follow]
When we first meet Richard and Mildred back in 1958, they are seen together with African-Americans at a drag race as if it’s no big deal. Then she tells him she’s pregnant, and they get married that summer in Washington D.C. because interracial marriage is illegal in Virginia.
For a while their lives go on, until some cops break into their home in the middle of the night to arrest them. Seeing them jailed for their love, and later Richard being free on bail while Mildred is behind bars, is just heart-breaking.
They finally get some help from ACLU attorney Bernard Cohen, played by Nick Kroll. He’s a bit over his head about trying to get the law overturned, especially when he tries to get the couple to be re-arrested to get the case before federal court. He eventually gets some help from another attorney, and the case goes before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Our site is interested in this movie because of Ruth Negga’s quiet and brave performance as Mildred Loving. She first got attention as Raina in Agents of SHIELD and later as Tulip on Preacher, but this is a very different role. Her character is supportive of Richard so she makes the big decision to write to then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy to get the law changed. She also decides, after one of her boys gets hit by a car, that she would rather go back to Virginia and risk jail time. She’s in favor of having Life Magazine feature her family because it will eventually help others. In just showing that an interracial marriage is much too typical to be illegal, Mildred shows her courage.
Joel Edgerton does a great job as Richard. He risked a lot for love as he also shows his concern. After working at a construction site one day, someone leaves a brick in his car that’s wrapped in the Life article about he and his wife. Then when he leaves work, he fears he’s being followed by someone who could threaten the family. Despite this, he supports his family, and says their love isn’t hurting anyone. Edgerton’s role is very different from his usual roles in movies like Warrior and Zero Dark Thirty, and he handles it very well.
Michael Shannon is also good as the Life Magazine photographer whose pictures of the Lovings just being themselves played a big role in people accepting interracial marriage.
The movie is currently at more than 400 theaters nationwide. If it comes to your town, please check it out. People magazine also has an interesting story on the film.