All love is created equal.
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 real-life couple played by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in the quietly stirring drama Loving.
Living in the segregated South, the white Richard and black Mildred Loving fall foul of Virginia’s racist anti-miscegenation 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 (maker of the excellent Take Shelter, Mud and Midnight Special) isn’t interested in stoking our moral outrage. He doesn’t go in for melodramatic standoffs or rousing speeches. He favours a tone of quiet restraint instead. Edgerton and Negga’s movingly underplayed performances suit this approach perfectly. Ultimately, the film is possibly a little too low-key. But its tender understatement does honour its subjects’ diffident reserve and taciturn courage.
Certificate 12. Runtime 123 mins. Director Jeff Nichols
Available on Blu-ray & DVD from 12 June, and on Digital from 29 May.