I had slight forebodings about whether Jeff Nichols‘ Loving (Focus Features, 11.4), a dramatization of the once-controversial interracial marriage between Mildred and Richard Loving would amount to anything more than a rote retelling. Well, the film is better than I expected. A warm, measured, adult-level thing. I wasn’t doing handstands in the lobby but I was telling myself “hmmm, okay, not bad.”
Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga in Jeff Nichols’ Loving.
Loving is a bit slowish and less fact-specific than I would have preferred, and there’s the usual emphasis on emotional rapport and interplay and fine, nicely underplayed performances, my favorite being Ruth Negga‘s as Mildred. And at 123 minutes it feels maybe 15 minutes too long. And if you’re at all familiar with the facts or if you happened to catch Nancy Buirski‘s The Loving Story, a 2012 HBO doc, it’ll be hard to avoid a feeling of being narratively tied down.
But Loving is a compassionate, plain-spoken, better-than-decent film that will amost certainly pick up some award-season acclaim, particularly some Best Actress talk for Ms. Negga’s kindly, sad-eyed wife and mom.