“Loving” sweet but lacks emotional punch

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, “Loving” tells the story of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) Loving, a mixed race couple living in Virginia. After their marriage in Washington, DC, they return home only to be thrown in jail. The state judge orders them to leave the state for a duration of 25 years. The pair are discovered by the ACLU who push their case all the way to the Supreme Court.

The film is a societal example of progress through perseverance and simple goodwill. The acting is good, the cinematography is splendid and the direction is steady, but the film lacks gravitas. It doesn’t feel particularly important or memorable in part because it doesn’t grandstand. Normally that is commendable, but perhaps a tad more pontificating would have created greater emotional impact and added weight to the story.

While the tale of Richard and Mildred is sweet, the characters lack depth. They are not particularly interesting and the story does not go deep into moral qualms and the choices they have to make. As a result, the film meanders from point A to point B, never fully engaging the audience without compelling characters with interesting backstories and ethical choices. We feel sympathy for them, but we do not feel that much empathy and it makes the film a rather so-so experience.

“Loving” is an important story to remember and the film is a decent exploration into the struggle of the Loving family, but it lacks the dynamics to make it a truly exceptional film.

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