Loving (2016)

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BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE – RUTH NEGGA

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Loving is the remarkable and history making story of Richard and Mildred Loving who fought against every odd for the union of their marriage, and for their love. Jeff Nichols directs this tough but tender tale with a gentle and delicate focus, highly contrasting with the harrowing nature of the story of the Lovings.

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It was 1958 Virgina and Richard Loving married Mildred Loving, modestly, and legally in the state of Washington DC. He then brought his new wife home, to where the local Sheriff, arrested, and jailed them both for being unlawfully married, due to inter-racial marriage being illegal in the state of Virginia. Their case was picked up by the ACLU and eventually taken to the supreme court where the ban on interracial marriage was overruled not just in Virginia, but in all other 24 states that interracial marriage was then illegal in.

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The film is directed with such grace that the underlying themes of a racist America are not crudely portrayed, but instead,the focus is drawn to the inter-relations of those immediately surrounding the Lovings. Even during the most brutal of scenes such as the initial entrance of the sheriff who busts in on the newlyweds whilst they sleep, is still directed with a quiet and still overtone. This particular take on the production of the film mirrors how gentle, and warm both Lovings were by nature. It is unsurprising the the film received a standing ovation at its Cannes premiere last year.

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Ruth Negga stars in her breakthrough role as Mildred. She is a wonderful, stunning and classic actress. Her presence on screen is reassuring despite her characters circumstance, due to the inner strength that she resounds throughout her screen time. Her beauty was highlighted by the wonderful cinematography of Adam Stone who exemplifies her radiance. Ruth had the difficult for some task of expressing her characters feelings without dialogue, to which she managed with ease on multiple occasions. In particular, the scene in which she returns home to Virginia. She looks at the house, and she breathes up to the sky and you can feel every single emotion running through her body. It’s relief, it’s nostalgia, it’s love, it’s fear, it’s absolutely and irrevocably everything to her in that moment. You can take all of th11at without a word spoken. This is a wonderful example of  why both Jeff Nichols as director, and both lead actors deserve recognitionfrom the academy, however it is only Ruth Negga who is nominated. 

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Ruth Negga speaks to Instyle about her role as Mildred by saying

“The discussion about strong female characters is becoming a bit more intelligent now. It’s not just necessarily a certain type. There’s many different forms of strength and I think that on the surface Mildred wouldn’t strike you as your typical strong lady but she had a very quiet tenacity.”

& that’s exactly what Ruth brings to her performance. Subtle strength with a clear agenda to be back where she needs to be.

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Joel Edgerton exceptional during his portrayal of Richard Loving. He has been cruely robbed of a nomination. An anxious, introverted and wholly in love man pained with the consequence of marrying his love and bringing their children into a racist Virginia. Joel Edgerton undergoes a complete transformation as his usually dark features are bleached and he adapts the perfect southern drawl with absolutely no hint of his native Australian tongue.

 Throughout the film we see glimpses of Richard at work building houses. We see slabs coming together as he scrapes and sets the concrete inbetween. This reflects the running narrative of the drama that is building in a way that isn’t finite or all at once. The film is a steady portrayal of the quiet lives that the Lovings lived whilst their legal battle was running alongside them making history in the Supreme Court and across America. Although you won’t find any big court battle scenes in the film, the Lovings preferring to distance themselves as much as necerssary from the legal cases. This is suggestively due to Richard scepticism of the ACLU. Joel Edgerton only needs to look at Ruth Negga to radiate the love that this man held for his wife, and his want to give her all that she needed – her home. Edgerton is another fine example of a silent actor and with that in mind, this is what makes both his and her performance worthy of nominations. Unfortunately for Edgerton, a Golden Globe nomination will be the height of his success with this film.

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All Images Courtesy Of Focus Features

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