Loving by Jeff Nichols tells, in a moving film, full of modesty, the Mildred and Richard Loving’s combat against a law prohibiting interracial marriage.
Loving starts in the County of Caroline in Virginia. In Central Point, white, black and indian people live together, quite naturally. Mildred and Richard love each other and get married. But then, in Virginia: “The sparrow doesn’t marry the robin, that’s the law of God…” As she is Black and he is White, living together will land them in prison, then thake them in exile to Washington. To uphold their right to freely love each other, they will risk being arrested again before the Supreme Court of the United States is interested in their case.
Arrested and sentenced to jail
In America in 1958, the first rockets soar into the sky at 37 000 km/h, but sixteen states are opposed to Black and White people being married and live together. Mildred (Ruth Negga) and Richard (Joel Edgerton) are in love and the young woman is pregnant. They decide to get married in Washington and Richard is going to build their house on the field he just bought.
One night, the couple is arrested and sentenced to prison. Their lawyer obtains from the judge that the sentence be suspended on condition that the couple would leave the state of Virginia. Iving in Washigton, they are again arrested when they return to thei hometown for Rich’s mother, a midwife, to give birth to their first child, Sidney.
Letter to Robert Kennedy
In the early 60s, Blacks people are more and more mass demonstrating to demand their rights. Settled in Washington, Mildred consideres the situation of her couple as a violation of their civil rights and writes a letter to Bobby Kennedy, then Attorney General of the United States. Bobby Kennedy transmits the case to the American Civil Liberties Union that commissions a lawyer, Bernard Cohen (Nick Kroll), then a second to help.
To get things done, the couple returns to Virginia, at constant risk of being arrested again. Followed by the media, their combat lead them to the US Supreme Court.
In 1967, in a historical decision, the nine judges of the highest court opted unanimously against the decision of Virginia, effectively repealing the anti racial mixing laws at national level.
Staging focused of faces
Through a mixed couple’s long quest for love in freedom, Jeff Nichols tells a founding moment of modern America. The Loving v. Virginia judgment symbolizes the “right for all to love without distinction of origin”, a decision which amended the US Constitution.
Ideology and hatred are absent from Jeff Nichols‘ film, and the characters of the “Loving Story” never express their frustration violently.
Through the actors’ play, full of modesty and restraint, enriched by “talking” silences, with a staging focused on faces, an intense emotion springs from this intimate portrait of the daily life of humble and stoic Americans, whose wish is to live in peace in their hometown and raise their children in a safe environment.
Far from Hollywood codes, the director of Take Shelter (Grand Prize of the Critics’ Week in 2011), Mud (in Competition in 2012) and Midnight Special (in competition at Berlin) has the secret of strong scenes, with emotional synergy between them, without profusion of means or frills.
In her the first major role in a feature film, Ruth Negga, with large expressive eyes, is the first revelation of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
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