I’ve been dating my girlfriend Kimetra for almost 8 months now. She’s my best friend, my love, my everything. We definitely plan to get married at some point in the next couple years, and that wouldn’t be possible if not for the couple this movie is about, Richard and Mildred Loving. It was because of their love that they, and their lawyers fought for their right to be married, and for others to do the same. This movie from most critics has gotten rave reviews, and people seem to be loving this story (no pun intended) ,it’s an important piece of history, that’s why I was hoping this movie would easily make my top ten list for best of the year. As it stands, this might be one of the worst movies, the more I think about it. But let’s break it down, shall we.
Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Revenge of the Sith) and Ruth Negga (Preacher, Warcraft) play Richard and Mildred Loving in this latest film adaptation, written and directed by Jeff Nichols (Midnight Special). The trailer made the movie feel very heartfelt, and dramatic, but in the movie itself, the audience never really gets a feel for why they love each other, or their connection as people, other than Joel Edgerton telling people that he loves his wife, and him saying that to her, we never feel it, which, in telling a movie, is the most important thing. They do an ok job of portraying the couple, Ruth moreso than Joel, who doesn’t really say much, which may speak a lot to how Richard was in real life, but in a movie like this, some liberties may be taken to give us some emotion to follow as an audience. Ruth Negga basically just does a toned down version of her Preacher character here, same accent, but she still gives us more reasons to feel for them than Edgerton does.
Some music could have added to the drama at least, but it seems that Mr. Nichols chose a more droning, ambient based sound for the few scenes that feature music. Nick Kroll (The League) does an ok performance in his attempt to branch out from strictly comedy as their lawyer Bernie Cohen, but overall the main problem with the movie is that it feels disjointed, uneven, and poorly paced.
One bright spot of the movie comes when Michael Shannon (The Night Before, Man Of Steel) comes in as a photographer for Life Magazine, and he takes some photos of the family, including the iconic shot of Mildred and Richard, laughing on the couch. That may have been my favorite sequence in the whole movie, as it was one of the few times that we saw and felt what the couple did for each other.
And then to make matters worse, the whole movie has a very unclimactic ending, the Lovings don’t make an appearance in court when their trial goes to the Supreme Court, which could have made for a better movie, even if it wasn’t what actually happened. And then the movie wraps up with some text brackets explaining the fallout of the case, and what happens to the couple afterwards. It was only a two hour movie, but it felt like four, and it still felt like there were things missing in the movie.
Kimetra later informed me on the ride back from the theater that there were better versions of this movie done, on tv no less not long ago. There was a 1996 tv movie with Lela Rochon and Timothy Hutton playing the couple called Mr. and Mrs. Loving Which from what I’m reading may have been an inaccurate version of the events, but it may have been a better story at least. There was also a 2012 HBO documentary called The Loving Story where this movie got its inspiration from.
There’s a lesson to be learned in this movie, and that’s that love is love, when it all comes down to it. It’s a lesson that needs to be reiterated a lot now in this dark world we live in. Another lesson could be learned from the making of this movie that sometimes historical accuracy can be sacrificed a little if the story itself isn’t as interesting as it should be.
What do you guys think though? Which is more important, total accuracy to a story or making it a little more interesting than it was, when it comes to historical movies? Comment below, or on the Facebook discussion group, just like Reel Geeks Guide on Facebook for more.
Rating ** out of 5 Stars