When you read Romeo and Juliet, it is painted as the most wonderful love story that ever lived. Most people breeze by the fact that it is about two teenagers raised in violent gangs that decide to kill themselves for the other after four days of meeting. Moreover, no one questions whether it was love for the other that bound them, or hate for the world they knew? I bring this up because Director Jeff Nichols’ Loving follows the interracial couple that would rock Virginia’s laws of anti-miscegenation all the way up to the Supreme Court: Richard and Mildred Loving.
The true story of Richard and Mildred Loving will blow Romeo and Juliet out of the water. This real-life couple spent practically their whole lives defending their love to the world, and never took the easy way or allowed their resolve to weaken despite, the violence they faced. Nichols is masterful in showing the micro and macro aggressions the couple faces throughout their relationship: from courtship to marriage. Moreover, he is brilliant in reminding you of why Richard and Mildred are fighting for each other by assuring audiences that it is the quiet moments of love that speak louder than the mass rages of hate.
Ruth Negga as Mildred should get an Oscar. She is so warm and subtly expressive in the vast amount of emotions she is undergoing. After all, Mildred is painted publicly like some witch that cast a love curse upon her husband’s heart. Yet, for all her reasons to despise the world and even become bitter and angry, there is always a kindness and gentility to her that is never lost. Negga has built a character that reminds viewers the light of a soul has no skin and shines brightly through all darkness. Everyone will walk away from this film wishing they could share a cup of coffee with Mildred, and her unwaveringly optimist husband Richard (Joel Edgerton). There are several moments throughout this film that women will walk out, look at their husbands, and ponder whether he would battle the literal WORLD! to just to have the right to say “I love you” to her everyday. (hmmmmm)
Edgerton gives Richard a ripe blend of sweetness and fierce, determined loyalty to his spouse that just makes you want to yell out to the screen, “THAT IS A MAN!”. Yet, you would not jump to these excited, in- depth conclusion had it not been for the simplicity of these characters.
For however much Loving v Virginia changed America and placed this couple into the forefronts of discussions on race and humanity, Nichols does well to portray them as your average, everyday “in love” couple going through extraordinary events. The film thrives on the quiet moments where Mildred and Richard are together in their home or are walking around, despite glares, and loving each other. You know, like the HUMAN COUPLE THEY WERE! From a hug to a kiss and even a “hand-hold”, you are constantly seeing examples of what Corinthians 13: 4 has made acclaimed about love:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Loving shows us why it is always more courageous to take in love and fight for it rather than push it away and attempt to destroy it. Love is for the brave like Richard and Mildred Loving, but hate is for the many cowards they encountered. Loving will be released in theaters November 4. (Warning: you will cry!).