Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Film Review: Loving


Jeff Nichols' latest offering is a well-acted film that struggles to weave a compelling narrative from its undeniably captivating true story.


Directed by Jeff Nichols (Midnight Special, Mud), Loving is the true story of Mildred (Ruth Negga) and Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton), two doomed lovers in 1950s Virginia torn apart on account of their skin colour.

Against the laws at the time, Mildred (an African-American woman) and Richard (a white man) fall in love and get married. Living out their quiet married life in the countryside, Mildred and Richard are soon carted off to prison after their secret union is served up to the local police chief, who has a particular hatred of mixed race relationships.

Forced to leave the state and not return under threat of imprisonment, the duo face discrimination and hatred at every turn - so they decide to take their legal fight all the way to the top with the help of a duo of dedicated civil right lawyers.

Loving is a strange film that I might get a lot of flak for not liking. Don't get me wrong, I can see why a lot of critics are fawning over this film and don't contest that it's not a technically well-made film; after all, it is directed by Nichols, one of the most consistently excellent directors in the last decade.

The camerawork, the cinematography and overall production design are all commendable. The era is accurately captured and feels well-realised on screen. It's also plain to see that both Negga and Edgerton give great performances that are layered and nuanced; Negga in particular travels through her character arc with particular strength, hitting each point along the way with aplomb.

It's just that (and please don't hate me), I found the whole affair rather...boring? Loving is told at an almost glacial pace, inching along and offering minute details along the way that often feed into very little or nothing at all.

The film finally starts to come good when Nick Kroll's cheeky civil right lawyer arrives on the scene, but unfortunately everything leading up to this point is rather dull. I can see what Nichols was aiming for - a film that focuses on the quiet life Mildred and Richard so keenly want rather than showy, cinematic moments - but it simply didn't work for me and I found my attention slipping at numerous points throughout the film.

The Verdict: 5/10


Loving isn't a bad film, it's just not one that I was particularly sold on. Everyone involved does what they do well and I wouldn't dissuade you from seeing it, should the story interest you. I just can't claim to have been gripped by the glacial pacing and mishandled narrative.

Loving is in cinemas across Australia on March 16.

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