Loving: Film Review

loving

I had been wanting to see Loving for a long time thanks to the buzz surrounding Ruth Negga‘s performance which is deserving of its Oscar nomination. I probably wouldn’t have put her in the awards frame myself because it was so subtle and understated.

She plays Mildred, a black woman who marries her white boyfriend Richard (Joel Edgerton) in Washington DC to bypass Virginia laws which make biracial marriage illegal. They are arrested soon after they return home and can either serve time in jail or leave the state for 25 years.

It’s insane that this is a true story. It blows my mind that these laws existed. It makes me grateful how far we have come but also makes you realise how much is left to be done. These films are still needed and are very important.

Most films which tell powerful real life stories about civil rights injustices are impactful and make sure to drive the point home as obviously as possible. Loving isn’t like that – it is quiet and restrained, sometimes too much so. This is refreshing in some respects but by not making it as dramatic as it could be, it means it is pretty slow moving, there’s a fair bit of silence and it feels quite long.

The characters aren’t massively vocal people so it would make no sense to give them huge rousing speeches or highly emotional moments. This is both a strength and a weakness – it feels more natural but I also connected with them and cared about their story less. I can see why Negga’s performance has been praised more than Edgerton’s because it is nuanced and she is the heart of the film and she says it all with her huge eyes. Edgerton’s character is gruff and reticent so the emotional depth isn’t quite as evident.

I wanted to love Loving but it didn’t hit me around the head emotionally like I was expecting. I was prepared for serious tears but none came. I didn’t connect with it deeply or care as much as usual and I blame that on its understated style.

In cinemas Friday 3rd February 

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