Loving Screen 19 articles

Loving

2016

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  • Nichols isn’t remotely interested in legal strategy. Rather than go the Lincoln route, he fashions a two-hour testimonial to Richard and Mildred’s fundamental goodness and decency, as if viewers need to be persuaded that anti-miscegenation laws were unjust... the film is so relentlessly on the side of the angels that the only possible response is to sadly shake one’s head at the small-minded bigotry on display.

  • Richard and Mildred Loving’s marriage is, if anything, *too* loving: they barely raise their voices at each other despite the stresses their relationship is put under. How infinitely more interesting it could have been – even if it meant being less faithful to the factual record – if Nichols had shown the couple locked in a bad marriage, mutually destroying each other at the same time as fighting for the legal recognition of their nuptials?

  • It’s not necessarily a mistake for Nichols to focus on the couple’s admirably durable marriage and de-emphasize the political anger that fuelled the Civil Rights era... but the film is marred by a few rather odd tonal shifts. Nichols’ penchant for using bucolic Southern landscapes to reiterate the purity of the Lovings’ passion possesses a Malick-Lite quality, but the film’s later sequences veer into more conventional territory traversed by numerous liberal “social conscience” movies.

  • Nichols's strategy, throughout the film, is to monotonously amplify mood—more or less one mood, of frustration and conflict—and in the process binding Edgerton and Negga to a narrow range of performance, turning the Lovings into pure and pristine symbols of a struggle rather than ordinary people facing extraordinarily cruel laws and forced into an extraordinary historical role that they didn’t seek.

  • It establishes the director as a reliable purveyor of sturdy, if unremarkable, dramas. Still, the film is probably his strongest since his little-seen Shotgun Stories, getting closer to his debut's firm bedrock of tensions in rural community life than [his three previous films]. Loving is instead content to stick to a kind of prestige-film template—the social-realist melodrama—and find little grooves of humanity to explore in its characters and its milieu in between the expected story beats.

  • A tender ode that still regards its subjects in near-sacred terms. It's a far cry from the dreary soul-searching that percolates throughout his other films, and in that sense represents an even wider commercial gambit than the sci-fi hook of "Midnight Special." If "Loving" marks Nichols' greatest step towards mainstream recognition, it's a quietly progressive one.

  • The film presents a vital story through a largely conventional lens. This is one of those emotionally investing, based-on-a-true-story narratives that could easily be called awards bait, though to dismiss it on that account is to overlook some fine performances and moving moments.

  • It's an intimate domestic drama about race in America, not Race in America, via a large-hearted portrait of two profoundly apolitical people who wanted to live with the same basic rights as those enjoyed by white Americans. Like them, Loving is modest, quiet and deep. Like all Nichols' work with his longtime cinematographer, Adam Stone, the film highlights the lush beauty of the rural American South.

  • Between crises, Loving made me restless. Yet when the final crawl came up, with its poignant statements about the Lovings’ enduring love, I found myself on the verge of tears. Loving is a dogged work, not a great or inspired one, but it gets to you nonetheless.

  • Nichols has a job to do, and regrettably it does not call for the widespread application of artistic sensitivity. Most of the film is a good, edifying liberal document, the sort that I am glad exists. But it might have been something more.

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    Sight & Sound: Nick Pinkerton
    January 06, 2017 | February 2017 Issue (p. 80)

    It has all the trappings of an awards-season prestige picture, but Nichols takes pains to play it against type, planning the material down to a consistently quotidian level. At times he overcorrects too much, for in his emphasising the unremarkableness of the Lovings he also somewhat etiolates them, robbing their union of all but a few hints of conflict and of any evidence of real sexual heat – which at bottom is what all the fuss was about in the first place.

  • The big peaks are small, playing as flickers of fear or hope across usually composed faces. Nichols holds his couple so delicately within what is typically shown as a brutal time and place. He turns the rest of the film down so that small acts, like an arm slung around a shoulder, resonate resoundingly, like a heartbeat heard through a stethoscope.

  • Some critics, however, are calling Loving Nichols’ most conventional film yet. Someone will have to enlighten me as to what’s conventional about understated, delicate drama. The only bows to convention in the film are the occasional soft violins that surface and the lawyers who emphasise how important their case is.

  • We abolished slavery in 1865, but 100 years later it was still illegal for interracial couples to marry in some states. Maybe that’s why Jeff Nichols’ beautifully restrained Loving feels less like a historical relic than a vital appraisal of what basic rights mean to actual human beings.

  • While Loving is intimate, it's not indulgent; it seems to have absorbed Richard Loving's eyes-on-the-road humility and his wife's down-home pragmatism. The Lovings aren't even at the court or with their lawyers when the arguments are heard and decisions are made... We get no broad cathartic moments — no great breakdowns, speeches, or confrontations. By the end, though, don't be surprised if your face is awash in tears.

  • With exacting economy, Mr. Nichols borrows from the documentary — its people with lined faces, its rooms with weathered walls — drawing on signifying minutiae, textures and cadences to fill in his portrait. He captures the era persuasively, embroidering the realism with details like Mildred’s knee-skimming skirts and Richard’s brush-cut hair.

  • This true-story drama is like the couple it concerns: modest. Consequently it’s emotionally devastating to see how these people fought for their right to live and love all the way to Supreme Court.

  • Restrained, tender, and compassionate, the film provides a mature rendering of long term commitment between two people whose bond remains unspoken... No great speeches are given, no grand celebration is held, but plenty of beautiful glances and smiles are exchanged. Good people are worth a damn in this anti-prestige picture.

  • Under Nichols’s direction, the film achieves the simplicity and perfection of certain silent films that pitted city life against country life as lovers were separated and reunited. Edgerton’s Richard barely speaks under his blond crew cut, changing expression as little as possible. Negga, who has eyes that convey so much thought and meaning, gazes with the intensity of Lillian Gish.

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