Review: Loving (2016)

2016 has, in many ways, been a dark year. Next to terrorist attacks in Europe, racially bias attacks have plastered the front pages of newspapers. In such modern times it seems unbelievable that there are still people out there who judge others by the color of their skin, or their sexuality. What better year than the last to introduce movies with black main characters to a wider mainstream audience? What better year than the last to show that racial issues SHOULD BE so 1950s/60s?

„Loving“ by Jeff Nichols tells the true-life story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, who in 1967 sued their home state of Virginia, went before the U.S. Supreme Court, won and therefor invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. It shows the unnecessary struggle of two people, who just wanted to show their love and had to fight to become a family.

Wonderfully portrayed by Joel Edgerton (nominated for a Golden Globe- „Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama“ – and in my eyes, deserving winner!) and Ruth Negga (nominated for a Golden Globe – „Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama“), the film was the most unanticipated for me. Naively unaware of the history of Afro-Americans the story of the Lovings was completely new to me and I went into the cinema blank. The only thing I knew about the film was that it’s based on true events. (Like so many Globe nominees this year – do we have a theme here?)

Telling this deeply moving story, Jeff Nichols managed to create a calm and blunt film, as if he commented on the fact that we are already so used to the „racial problem“. There was no added drama, no heightened tension, no dramatization. The focus laid on the acting, which was reserved and showed the silent suffering of two people, just wanting to love each other and put more love into this world. Edgerton and Negga brought these characters to life and managed to be so similar and different at the same time. As if the only thing between them, the only difference between them was their sex. No color of their skin. No heritage. Both seemed reserved, tormented by what they had to endure, but while he stayed cold and tried to be strong, like „a real man should be“, Ruth Negga managed to give Mildred this female warmth, this little piece of hope.

„Loving“ is a beautiful character portrait, and a wonderful actors film. The clarity of the story, of the characters was never overpowered by added „hollywoodness“. It was simple and therefore even more emotional.

After a year of „Black Lives Matter“, of gun violence, hate crimes and the question of if we have learned anything from the 50s and 60s, it amazes me that a film like „Loving“ makes it into the theaters at such a time. Sometimes I feel like, everything that happens in this world is scripted. Because, how are such coincidences possible. In the end it doesn’t really matter. Like „Moonlight“ or „Hidden Figures“, „Loving“ is an important piece of movie history. It might never get the attention it should, even though every actor should definitely look at it and possibly even study it. This story is an important piece of US history, so if you are too lazy to read it up, or never study it at school or uni, you should definitely watch „Loving“ and see what this „racial thing“ that has been going on, is doing to people, who just want to love each other.

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