This is the slowest good film of the year, and I use both those adjectives in equal measure.
Loving is the real-life story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who were seen as criminals for simply being married to each other in 1960s Virginia. First, they were thrown in jail, then ordered to leave the state, and they ended up changing the United States Constitution. That case was nearly fifty years ago, and I can’t believe it’s still relevant.
Joel Edgerton (The Gift) is Richard, a lower-class man who wants nothing else but to care for his warm and charming wife, Mildred (Ruth Negga, Warcraft). And both performances are brilliant, to the point where I could look at them and almost not see the actors behind the characters.
The film was written and directed by Jeff Nichols (Mud, Midnight Special), who has truly established himself as a versatile and excellent storyteller. Few men can make such convincing portraits of realistic, if not slightly outlandish, Americans, though I must say that his pacing could use some work. It’s my only real criticism here, aside from the overly blue cinematography.
This is a painfully slow film, at times agonizing. It’s endearingly genuine, a complement to this year’s excellent Moonlight, but that film managed to keep me invested a lot better than this one. The court case, what might be considered the centerpiece of the narrative, is deliberately avoided, so the action never has much to build to.
If it didn’t feel so long, I might agree that it’s one of the best of the year. A lot of critics love it. Like with Midnight Special, though, I think Nichols will have to settle for another good film shy of greatness. One day, Jeff, one day.
Loving is in theaters now. I had to try really hard not to making a Loving pun.