Loving written and directed by Jeff Nichols (Raindog Films, Big Beach Films, PG-13, 123 min)
Starring Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Terri Abney, Alano Miller, Bill Camp, Nick Kroll, Jon Bass, and Michael Shannon.
Brick by Brick
A bricklayer carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. Before a craftsman home presents itself as a livable entity, the bricklayer kneels with cement in the wheelbarrow, brick after brick mortaring together into a cohesive whole.
The bricklayer must work steadily and with an eye toward future gains. The daily monotony of such toil demands a worker with special patience. Repetition toward a belief in something greater, something meaningful, something worthwhile. The bricklayer works toward an imagined end, realized long after the strenuous early stages have finished. This work acts as the cornerstone for a home, for a family to live safely and securely.
The biopic, Loving, returns to the visual of bricklaying early and often as it tells the story of the interracial couple fighting for the legal right to marry in Virginia.
Richard and Mildred Loving
Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) Loving marry in Washington D.C. legally. Upon returning to rural Virginia, the marriage runs afoul of the state’s archaic laws. A swift arrest and time in jail sobers the couple.
Luckily, some crafty lawyering helps the couple avoid jail time, the though punishment remains severe: banishment from Virginia for 25 years. With all of their family in Virginia and without the means to export the extended family out of the area, the Lovings must choose between building a life with each other in Washington D. C. or risk arrest and time served for remaining close with family.
ACLU the Case
In a cry of desperation, Mildred writes a letter to Kennedy hoping to raise awareness to their case. A letter forwarded around Washington ultimately influences the ACLU to back the case.
With extensive funds and a team of lawyers ready to play ball, the Lovings move back to Virginia and try to re-root in the community as court decisions and appeals send the case to the Supreme Court.
Despite the reconnection, Richard feels the pressure of the situation. Every cloud of dust spewing forth as a car parades down the driveway sends harbingers of police captivity. And so all Richard can do to keep his mind from the political turmoil is to use his hands, to keep laying those bricks.
Invest in the Details to Achieve the Vision
Just like a home emerges brick by brick, the blueprint for a legal marriage in the eyes of the state emerges from the diligence of Richard and Mildred. Played aptly by Edgerton and Negga, the actors embody depth of feeling behind the basic, blue collar veneer. Straightforward and without much intellectual depth, the actors embed feeling and loyalty in this family.
Loving operates within a thesis of simplicity. It argues for the values of a family devoted to each other and to the American dream. The Lovings just want a house over their head and to be left alone. Surely in a pluralistic society, there’s room for good folk like that? Loving suggests the way forward in society is to keep laying bricks. Eventually, you’ll see the utopia you always wanted to see.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5