Although set in the late 1950’s, ‘Loving’s topic of racism is still relevant. It’s a sad thing to say 60 years after the events it depicts. The more you think society has progressed, the less it actually has. Attitudes today are much better even if there is still a long way to go. ‘Loving’ explores these issues with sensitivity and gives hope no one will have to talk about racial prejudice in another 60 years.
Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) are a newly and happily married couple. They are unusual for middle-America in 1958 as Richard is white and Mildred is black. Ruffling the feathers of bigots in the small community in which they reside, the chorus of disapproval is led by Sherriff Brooks (Marton Csokas). Faced with claims their marriage is illegal due to outdated laws, they begin a long legal battle for equality. Their fight against ignorance takes an emotional toll with their enduring love holding them together.
A flawed but interesting movie ‘Loving’ occasionally plays like a heavy history lesson. This feeling is further highlighted by Edgerton’s and Negga’s performances. Although portraying a loving couple desperate for their basic marital rights, there’s never a sense of genuine bond between them. The actors play their roles far too low-key with their morose outlook making them a couple hard to like. Whilst the situation they’re in is hardly one for levity, the chemistry the characters should convey is rarely seen.
Blame could be laid at director Jeff Nichols although he delivers an otherwise engaging tale despite his actors. The appalling treatment Richard and Mildred suffered is shown in a matter of fact way without melodrama. The script allows you to interpret what’s happening and mainly avoids the usual clichés of ‘goodies vs baddies’. The motivation behind the racism is explored and, while still repugnant, this element brings more depth to the drama.
‘Loving’ should have been better with only a few stand-out moments making it shine. They say those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Sadly that’s true with equality for all still raging. But the message of not putting up with established, unfair laws is one ‘Loving’ expresses well and something all viewers should never forget.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 6
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.
Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.