“Loving” Shows How Far We’ll Go for Those We Love
Of all the movies to come out in the last year, Loving is not only one of the most beautifully shot, but points out how not long ago marriage was considered a crime for interracial couples. The film starts in 1958, when Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) and his pregnant girlfriend, Mildred Jeter (Ruth Negga) decided they wanted to get married and start a life in Central Point, Virginia. However, since Richard was a white man and Mildred was a woman of color, they were not legally allowed to be married in the state of Virginia. Instead, the two drove to Washington D.C., where interracial marriage was legal, and made their union official. The two then moved to an acre of land near Mildred’s family and Richard, a mechanic and construction worker, began building them a house. This story may sound like an unexciting story of normalcy, yet the marriage of these two led to one of many important Supreme Court rulings that would occur during the Civil Rights Movement.
On July 11, 1958, the police raided the Loving household, arresting Mildred and Richard for violating anti-miscegenation laws which forbade mixed-race couples. The two were sentenced to one year in prison, but were released after stating they would not return to Virginia for 25 years. They left their families, their newly built home, and everything they knew in order to live somewhere where their relationship was legal. After living in Washington D.C for many years and raising their family, Mildred grew tired of the city life and she was missing out on seeing her family. This led to her challenging anti-miscegenation laws on a federal level and it led to the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia, which saw Loving win and interracial marriage become federally legal.
Loving has some of the best cinematography seen within the last few years. Director Jeff Nicholas captures the era with a beautiful simplicity. From the withered walls inside house to the worn dresses of the working class characters, no detail is overlooked nor is it exemplified. It creates a simplicity that fits right in with the story. Mildred and Richard were not martyrs or Civil Rights activists, they were country people who just wanted to live and love. However, the most astonishing part of the film is it’s quietness. The Lovings were often described as quiet, simple spoken people, and the film plays on this. The most significant parts are colored by silence and have the cast showing more emotion through their face and body language than their words. Loving envelops the audience in a deep country type of silence that isn’t often found in movies today.
Many may look at Loving and claim it’s just another “social justice” film for millennials.. They couldn’t be more wrong. The movie doesn’t emphasize the court room proceedings or even the Civil Rights Movement; it looks at the run-of-the-mill life Mildred and Richard Loving lived. There are more scenes that show the couple laughing and taking care of their children and building their life together than ones that show courtroom drama or protests and anger. Loving looks at the people behind the court case as opposed to the movement that helped it pass. It was the ordinariness of their love that defined them and makes them their story not only incredibly relatable, but causes us all to wonder why such laws ever existed in the first place.