Released November 4th
The film Loving covers a critical piece of our country’s history involving an interracial couple in Virginia who were sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 simply for getting married. It is also a skillfully made film, one of the best of 2016. The direction, the camera work, the acting, the editing, and the construction of the story are superb.
A ten-second flash of a face, every item, every action in this movie reveals volumes. The props crew scoured rural Virginia antique shops for genuine items from the time and location. Scenes that provide information essential to the story are created with understated dramatic impact. Every scene flows into the next, and imparts neither too much nor too little information. A conversation between “Richard Loving” and “Sheriff Brooks” unveils generations of racial tension within minutes. Sheriff Brooks is played with exceptional skill by Martin Csokas. His eerily calm delivery hints at seething anger and self-righteousness hidden underneath a placid countenance as he describes an area under his jurisdiction that has become a melting pot of diverse races.
Most of the lead actors in Loving are from outside the US – perhaps this allows them to perceive their characters with a clear vision. Ruth Negga, who is compelling as “Mildred Loving” was born in Ethiopia and raised in Limerick, Ireland. Australian Joel Edgerton is one of those actors who can steal a scene with his intensity even without dialogue. He truly brings “Richard Loving” to life, and looks uncannily similar to the real individual. This production also took a chance on actors who are just getting started on their careers. Kudos to veteran casting director Francine Maisler for recognizing uncharted talent! Will Dalton (“Virgil”) had done just a handful of low budget films, a couple of roles on minor television series’ and several commercials. Sharon Blackwood, who endows Richard’s mother “Lola Loving” with enormous life in very little screen time, is an opera singer. As an actress her resume lists small roles in ten little-known films. Nick Kroll, known for his comedy series “The Kroll Show” is spot on as the eager and inexperienced civil rights attorney who handles the case. Michael Shannon has an impressive cameo as a life magazine photographer.
Director/writer Jeff Nichols directed and wrote Mud, a striking film from 2012, so I wasn’t surprised at the great job he did with Loving. The filmmakers got almost every detail right, from the rhythm of the scenes to the natural flow of the narrative, the landscapes, the faces, the casting. Nichols even uncovered documentary footage of the Loving’s from the mid-60’s that allowed his team to “go into their home and see them and watch them”.
If you are an aspiring filmmaker you should see this film to find out how to make use of the camera as a tool to make the screen come to life. The simple country landscapes, the faces, even the objects, have radiance in Loving.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. email@example.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com