Loving

Posted on November 10, 2016 at 5:21 pm

A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements
Profanity: Racist epithets
Alcohol/ Drugs: Some alchohol
Violence/ Scariness: Racism, some shoving, child hurt in accident
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: November 11, 2016
Date Released to DVD: February 6, 2017
Amazon.com ASIN: B01LTHZK2U

Copyright 2016  Focus
Copyright 2016 Focus
We don’t have to see how they met. We don’t have to see how he worked up the courage to ask her out or their first misunderstanding, or watch her try on different outfits before their big date. “Loving,” written and directed by Jeff Nichols (“Midnight Special,” “Mud”) brings us into the story of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Oscar nominee Ruth Negga) as they have a very short, very simple, but very meaningful conversation. She pauses, and we can see on her face that she does not know how he will react and is perhaps afraid to hope. Finally, she says it: “I’m pregnant.”

There is a pause, only a few seconds but it feels much longer. Finally he says only, “That’s great.” But it is clear that he is overjoyed that their love has created a child and he is fully committed to her. And it is clear, too, that they are not fully aware of the ramifications of having a child when the mother is black, the father is white, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, which shut down its entire school system just four years earlier in response to the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, prohibits marriage or cohabitation between people of different races specifically because it does not want mixed-race children to be born.

Washington D.C. allows inter-racial marriage, so they are married there in 1958, and return home.  One night the sheriff crashes into their home as they are sleeping in their bed, their marriage license on the wall, and arrests them.  The judge suspends their sentence only if they will agree to leave the state and never return together.

They live with family in Washington, and raise three children.  But Mildred wants to go home. Nichols conveys the Edenic quality of the countryside they love. The Civil Rights movement has begun, so she writes to Attorney General Robert Kennedy to ask for his help.  He puts her in touch with the American Civil Liberties Union, a nonprofit that protects Constitutional rights. Two idealistic, if inexperienced, young lawyers (Nick Kroll and Jon Bass) want to take their case to the Supreme Court, which can invalidate all 16 state miscegenation laws.

Nichols keeps the legal stuff at the edges of the story. His focus is on the Lovings and their community, and the film is brimming with small, beautifully realized, evocative details. A dinner scene shows how completely Richard is accepted as a part of Mildred’s family. But we also see a frank conversation where a black man tells Richard that they may be alike, but Richard can “fix” his problem with the bigoted law by leaving Mildred while there is nothing they can do to “fix” theirs.

Richard’s mother, a midwife, only needs a few words to let Richard know that she did not give the police any information about where the Lovings were (and to let him know she was not entirely happy about the marriage, though she treats Mildred with kindness). We see a baleful glance from a defeated white competitor in a car race that could indicate the source of the complaint to the sheriff.

We see Richard’s careful, capable hands stirring mortar and laying concrete blocks and Mildred caring for the children and sitting at the kitchen table to write to the Attorney General. And, in a re-creation of the famous photo in LIFE Magazine by Grey Villet (a nice cameo by Nichols regular Michael Shannon), we see their quiet pleasure in each other as they laugh at the “Andy Griffith Show” episode about Aunt Bee’s pickles. He may need a lawyer to tell the nine old men on the Supreme Court he loves his wife. We see it in every frame.

Parents should know that this film depicts historic racism with some offensive epithets. The movie also includes a childbirth scene and an (off-screen) accident involving a child.

Family discussion: If you could take a case to the Supreme Court, what would it be?  What do we learn about the Lovings from seeing them with their families?

If you like this, try: the documentary “The Loving Story

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Based on a true story Drama DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Features & Top 10s Race and Diversity Romance

Trailer: Loving

Posted on July 17, 2016 at 8:00 am

“Loving” stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as the real-life couple who challenged miscegenation laws all the way to the Supreme Court.

Every family should see the outstanding documentary about the case, The Loving Story.

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Based on a true story Courtroom Drama Trailers, Previews, and Clips
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