A quietly stirring, movingly underplayed drama based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga).
The people who change society aren’t always the ones with the loudest voices or the most assertive personalities. Sometimes just being yourself is what it takes to make history, as is demonstrated by the unassuming couple.
Living in the segregated South, white Richard and black Mildred fall foul of Virginia’s laws when they marry in 1958. Arrest and forced exile from their home state to Washington DC follow.
The Lovings want nothing more than to be left in peace to get on with their lives, but when homesickness gets the better of them they reluctantly embark on a legal battle that goes all the way to the Supreme Court and a landmark civil rights victory in 1967.
Watching the Lovings’ story unfold, it’s impossible not to feel indignation on their behalf. However, writer-director Jeff Nichols isn’t interested in stoking our moral outrage. He doesn’t go in for melodramatic standoffs or rousing speeches, favouring a tone of quiet restraint instead.
Edgerton and Negga’s performances suit this approach perfectly and, even if the film is possibly a little too low-key, its tender understatement honours its subjects’ diffident reserve and taciturn courage.