Simple and Beautiful
Loving (2016): The story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, whose challenge of their anti-miscegenation arrest for their marriage in Virginia led to a legal battle that would end at the US Supreme Court.
This. This film is the reason the Academy diversified its voting group. In years past, a film like this would not have been nominated. It most certainly did not make a huge splash, and there was no huge marketing push behind it to get any Oscar nominations, and yet it found itself with a coveted Best Actress nomination. I know I wasn't the only one asking, "Loving? What?" when I saw Ruth Negga's name on the list for Best Actress nominations. In years past with a mostly older and whiter voting class, a film like this would've been lost to the annals of time. But, certain parts of the Academy clearly cared about this film and the performance of Ruth Negga so much they put it in their top five and, after watching the film, I can see why. Negga is outstanding, and certainly the best part of the film. There's a certain.....beauty to her performance. See this film, and the character she and Joel Edgerton, her husband in the film, play, are very shy and reserved. There is no super-obvious, Oscar-worthy scene for Negga. There is no "Here's to the fools who dream" kind of moment for her. It's the character she creates throughout the 123 minute film that is so engaging. It's the character that, when she finds out the Supreme Court ruled in her favor, devastates you with a simple smile.
If you can't tell yet, I absolutely LOVED Ruth Negga in this film. Her performance as Mildred was a very quiet and intimate performance, and well worthy of an Oscar nomination. Joel Edgerton was also great as the husband Richard. Man has he come a long way. Dude sure knows how to play a diverse set of characters. What can be viewed as a criticism, though, is that the supporting cast outside of these two are pretty lackluster. Even the great Michael Shannon isn't given much to do here. Sure, the purpose of this film is to be as intimate as it gets, but this can certainly be a double-edged sword. For example, Nick Kroll plays the lawyer for Richard and Mildred and is initially portrayed as ambitious and potentially only taking this case on to further his own career. Film never investigates that though, and as it goes on all inclination of his ambition is forgotten about and he becomes a caring lawyer. But is that really a big deal? No. This story is not about the lawyer of Richard and Mildred. It's about the two of them. Oh! THAT SAID. There is a TERRIFIC performance buried in this film from Marton Csoakas, who plays a racist sheriff in the town this takes place in. Oh my GOD is he great! He basically gets two scenes in this film, and he kills them both. Almost forgot to mention him! Even though the film forgot about him completely in the second half but oh well! He was great in his two scenes!
Anyway, moving on. The story overall was very engaging. I imagine the research for this was very difficult for this film because the main characters are so reserved, but it's pretty amazing to see such unlikely heroes for the Civil Rights movement. I think outside of the story and acting though, the movie was pretty average though. Nothing out of the ordinary from a technical standpoint. (Again, I think this was the point) I will say though, the sound design was a little lackluster. The dialogue was turned up way too loud from time to time when the characters were having more intimate conversations, and this was kind of distracting to me. Other than that, though, it was a well-made and well-executed film telling an important story worth telling, and I am glad that parts of the Academy felt it was worth an Oscar nomination. Check it out if you're a fan of history or the Civil Rights movement!
The Critique: Beautiful in its simplicity and buoyed by a great performance from Ruth Negga, Loving is a great film worthy of its Oscar nomination.
The Recommendation: Take a looksie if you like history-based films and stories that deal with civil rights.
Rewatchability: Moderately High
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
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