I’m currently in an interracial relationship so I was instantly interested in one of the landmark moments that set the stage for interracial relationships today. I was a fan of Joel Edgerton already (most notably Warrior) and Ruth Negga played a substantial role in the first few seasons of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. Could this movie live up to the buzz around it?
This movie tells the story of the American 1950s and 60s and the trial that ultimately would legitimize interracial relationships. We have Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga) who aren’t allowed to be married in their home state of Virginia, so they drive to Washington D.C. to get married there. It gets complicated for them, especially when they have children. This movie documents about a 10-year span in which they battle the courts for their right to be married.
We also have Terri Abney as Mildred’s sister, Will Dalton and Alano Miller as Richard’s friends, and comedian Nick Kroll as a lawyer trying to help them. We also get a scene or two with Michael Shannon as a photographer from Time magazine.
The performances in this film are incredible, especially from our two leads. This will likely result in nominations for Edgerton and Negga, hopefully both. This is a huge jump for Negga, who has only appeared in the big Hollywood film Warcraft and a few reoccurring TV roles. This will be a huge boost for her.
They each deliver something different, balancing each other out perfectly. Negga is articulate and bold here, giving us a look at a Mildred who understood their role in history. Edgerton’s Richard is very different, wanting to avoid the spotlight and unable to put more than a few words together at a time. He’s reluctant to fight the good fight, wanting nothing more than to be left alone with his wife.
The movie is also beautifully shot, written and directed by Jeff Nichols, who is known for Mud and Midnight Special. He’s also a contender for some awards, showing patience and restraint in his technique.
What doesn’t work?
If you want to see great performances, that makes this movie an easy pick, but as a whole it doesn’t quite succeed to a 5-star level for me.
It’s long, clocking in at just over 2 hours, but they skip over scenes that would’ve made this movie feel complete, especially in the climax. There were a few scenes that you wait the whole movie for, and you’re robbed of them all, but we get plenty of scenes reinforcing that Richard is a hard-worker and lays foundation for a living. Yet the crucial scenes… Missing.
The pacing is also slow, so some of you might feel the movie drags. Some trimming could’ve tightened this whole thing up.
This is a character-piece, giving both Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga some incredible source material and they both knock it out of the park. As a whole though, this movie is fine. It’s good, even great if you’re focusing on the performances. It’s long though, missing some vital scenes and focusing too long on scenes that don’t really mean much, resulting in some uneven pacing. Don’t be surprised to see this movie pop up occasionally in the Oscars conversation at the end of the year.