In 1967, the landmark civil rights decision by the United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. The case was brought by Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple sentenced to a year in prison by the Commonwealth of Virginia for marrying each other. As a result of the court's ruling, the number of interracial marriages in the U.S. increased significantly over the years and decades to come and the decision was cited as precedent in future federal court decisions pertaining to the unconstitutionality of restrictions on same-sex marriage in the U.S.
Loving, the immensely moving new film written and directed by Jeff Nichols, follows Richard (the chameleon-like Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) as they are harassed and arrested by local authorities for violating the Commonwealth's anti-miscegenation laws. Richard and Mildred move to Washington D.C. to remain married and raise a family but yearn to someday make it back to their family and friends in Virginia. The couple at last sees some light at the end of the tunnel when the American Civil Liberties Union approaches the couple about filing the lawsuit against the Commonwealth that will ultimately lead to the 1967 decision.
The picture is so whole-heartedly convincing that it often looks and feels more like a documentary than a scripted, performed film. Edgerton and Negga do beautiful, lived-in work as Richard and Mildred and they're surrounded by a fine supporting cast, including Nick Kroll, Michael Shannon, Bill Camp and Sharon Blackwood. Nichols' efforts are completely spot-on, with countless aggravating, inspiring, sweet and even occasionally very funny moments. Not a false note is struck. Kudos too to David Wingo's fine original score.
Expect to see lots of Loving this coming awards season.