Loving

Director: Jeff Nichols (2017) BBFC cert: 12A

There’s no beginning to the drama in this earnest portrait of the lives at the centre a constitutional storm.

It concerns the 1967 US Supreme Court decision to invalidate the prohibition of interracial marriage.

Sadly there’s an over emphasis on the extreme ordinariness of Richard and Mildred Loving. Joel Edgerton is strong and silent. Ruth Negga is quietly dignified.

It’s a wonder why Negga has been Oscar nominated for the performance, as it seems to owe as much to the directors instruction as to her interpretation of the character.

Marrying legally in Washington DC, they’re arrested at home in Virginia where the law doesn’t recognise their mixed-race union.

A civil rights liberties group employs an ambitious lawyer to appeal their case. Years pass, the case grinds on and the finely crafted realism of writer/director Jeff Nichols leaves no domestic detail unturned.

I understand the point of the film is to offer a portrait of the private couple at the centre of – and yet removed from – a constitutional crisis. But the absence of clever courtroom wrangling, or sensationalist scenes of violence leaves us aching for some creative licence. Who needs to go to the cinema to be told how dull real life can be?

Loving is an eloquent plea for tolerance and equality. They have my sympathy, admiration and sometimes my interest, but I was far from loving it.

@ChrisHunneysett

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