Loving is a classy and low-key liberal version of something like God’s Not Dead 2, a Christian drama about the separation between church and state. Here, the issue is interracial marriage and its legality. The story is true; it’s based on Richard and Mildred Loving, of Virginia, who, in 1957, wed and were subsequently jailed and told to leave their hometown, where their union was not recognized. In several scenes, Jeff Nichols demonstrates his artistry: he incorporates details from daily life to give the movie texture, and he uses camerawork to build suspense, even when it doesn’t lead to much. It’s ironic, though, that a movie called Loving doesn’t have much love in it because, in an attempt to subvert Oscar clips and prestige movie clichés, Nichols effaces all overt love from the movie—even for the children. The result is a stodgy narrative, the raison d’être of which is to celebrate progress and link it to recent progress (gay marriage). And yet, the movie doesn’t go full Art House since there’s a conspicuous amount of generic, manipulative score to rouse us, just in case we’ve forgotten that the Lovings are virtuous. Fortunately, Loving is enlivened by supporting turns from Nick Kroll, Jon Bass, Will Dalton, Alano Miller, and Michael Shannon. Though we are all for interracial relationships, a scause for applause does not make good a movie.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White