January 30, 2017

Loving (2016)

Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton

Movies come in many forms: mindless entertainment, thought-provoking, escapism fantasy, and educational. The last, while an important contribution to film, is not necessarily the most exciting to watch in a cinematic sense. This movie falls into that category.

Based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, whose interracial marriage in 1958 challenged the anti-miscegenation in Virginia, the movie is a slow, deliberate look at the challenges they personally faced in their fight to be legally recognized as a couple. It's a highly relevant story, considering this ban on interracial couples existed only a few decades ago, and the same bigotry that allowed such laws to exist in the first place is now being directed at same sex couples.

Though filmmakers often reduce a larger movement to a story about one particular person to generate additional impact, this movie is unique in that it never addresses a scope larger than the Loving's personal experience. There are no marches, no violence, no desire to participate in the larger civil rights movement. It is just the two of them, trying to live their lives together. The simplicity of it I'm sure holds an appeal for a lot of people.

Personally, I wasn't totally captivated by it. It is certainly a remarkable story and it's well done, but it was *so* realistic that it sort of felt like I was just watching two regular people in their everyday lives. I'm sure that's how it was meant to feel, but it's also what keeps the movie from feeling like entertainment.

It's hard to criticize a movie about such an important event, especially in light of current events, but just because a movie is important and well done doesn't mean everyone has to enjoy it. But if I were still teaching, I would make my students watch the hell out of this movie, because it puts racism in amazing perspective.

Final word: Watching this is a time-out from being angry at the world to being sad for the people in it. Which isn't really a consolation.

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