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Arkansas native refutes hate with ‘Loving’

Submitted by Tanner Newton on December 5, 2016 – 2:36 pmNo Comment

Little Rock native Jeff Nichols once again delivers a film worthy of praise with his fifth movie, “Loving.”

“Loving” tells the story behind Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court case that ended laws against interracial marriage.

Richard, a white man played by Joel Edgerton, and Mildred, an African American woman played by Ruth Negga, were a couple in Virginia during the old days when interracial marriage was illegal in some states. To get around this, the Lovings went north to get married.

After saying their vows in Washington, D.C., the newlyweds return to their home state, where trouble soon ensues. The family home gets raided, the Lovings get arrested, and the judge tells them that they can either leave the state for a minimum of 25 years, or they can go to prison.

Naturally, they leave the state, returning to the nation’s capital. Eventually, Mildred gets homesick and they start suing to try to come back home.

Over the years I have found myself less and less interested in biopics, those “inspired by a true story” movies or “based on a true story” movies. Honestly, I find the majority of them boring at this point. They are so predictable.

This being a biopic, I assumed that the majority of the movie would take place in courtrooms. Thankfully, I was wrong. Nichols has very little of the actual court battles in the movie.

Most writers and directors would want to show the big dramatic arguments. Nichols ignores those and instead shows the real, human emotions behind the influential court case.

I will say that this is my least favorite film of Nichols. “Shotgun Stories,” “Take Shelter,” “Mud” and “Midnight Special” are all leagues ahead of this movie. It shows how talented Nichols is that his weakest movie to date is still a solid bet for a spot in the top 10 movies of the year list.

This is a banner year for Nichols, as “Midnight Special” came several months ago.  That film, a science fiction movie about a kid with special abilities, also starred the Australian actor and movie-maker Edgerton.

Nichols is one of those directors who sticks with actors he likes. Each of his previous movies featured Michael Shannon, and sure enough, he turns up here, too. Other Nichols regulars, Bill Camp and Michael Abbot Jr., also turn up in small roles.

The main thing holding the movie back is that we already know how it ends. It is hard to remain invested in a story that has few surprises.

There are several scenes that are very intense, but they do not often go anywhere. These feel tacked on just to keep things interesting.

These are minor problems, though. The film is very well acted, written, directed and shot.

This movie is also culturally relevant. The movie demands tolerance and equality for African Americans.  Also, anybody with a Facebook account will see parallels between the Virginians’ reactions to interracial marriage back in the 1950s, and gay/lesbian marriage now.

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