WRONG MESSAGES, EDITING HURT FILM
Film Review by Fiore
“There’s a danger when you taste brown sugar. Louie fell in love overnight.” – the stories.
Director Jeff Nichols helms and pens an interesting tale of Richard and Mildred Loving, a married couple who filed lawsuits until the Supreme Court shot down laws banning interracial marriages. While much of the film is dramatized for the sake of pacing and continuity, several unintentional (at least I hope they were) messages seep through the story, sabotaging the civil rights message.
The film opens with Richard and Mildred sitting on the front porch, while Mildred announces she is pregnant. The rest of the film depicts their fight to stay together at a time when the culture did not permit interracial marriages. This concept died in the late 60’s and early 70’s. In fact, it reversed; people, especially young women, were encouraged to date and marry men of other races by the social engineers who sought an America with so many blended races, not one would be dominant.
It was an interesting construct, until the mores of the black culture left many women as single mothers, which forced many government programs for these individuals to survival and made the woman’s re-entry to her own race for dating nearly impossible. After the rubber band effect ended, we achieved a society where interracial marriages were not disparaged, nor reveled. They were just marriages. This was until the past eight years of the Obama Regime when the cultural lines between the races were torn and separated by one of the most racist leaders this country has ever seen. This whole social merry-go-round actually began with the Lovings.
Richard is played by Joel Edgerton. I thought he should have won the Best Actor Award for his portrayal in BLACK MASS some years ago. He continually improves on his screen performances and is becoming as adept at acting as his brother Nash is at SFX. This performance, however, is not as strong. He plays Richard, along with the solid help of the make-up department, almost as a country boy Forrest Gump. There is a difference between a man of few words and one who is ready to go full retard. Edgerton often blurs the line. The script implies, in more than one scene, Richard’s judgement is not going to shift him from the short bus to the regular bus. This is one of the unintended messages; that only a boy light in the head, would consider marrying a girl from another race.
Ruth Negga plays Mildred Jeter, who becomes Mildred Loving after an ill-advised trip to Washington D.C, to marry. She plays Mildred as a simple, country girl, willing to let life lead her by the decisions made by her man. Try selling that theme to today’s Disney-bred females. She is not the take charge woman lead, controlling and enabling situations. Rather, her only major decision in the film is to write a letter, done on a whim, to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, asking for assistance in returning to her home in Virginia.
KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. THE BEDROOM RAID
Nichols’ script becomes suspect when it takes an exceptionally long time for the local authorities to react to the marriage. The script also alludes to the strong possibility that someone from the black community turned the couple in to the law, thereby suggesting the racial prejudice was also present among those persecuted. Probably another unintended message.
From the moment Mildred writes to Kennedy, the film takes on a Hollywood mien. Everything falls into place when two lawyers come to the aide of the Lovings. In what has to be the film’s biggest faux pas, LOVING depicts both as Jewish attorneys more concerned with taking a case to the Supreme Court for their own personal gain and recognition, than the cause to help people. The scripting augments stereotypes already prevalent at the time about Kennedy and Jewish lawyers. If Nichols intended these messages, then he has far more hutzpah than his peers and colleagues.
LOVING is too long. This seems to be a common comment in my reviews, but nonetheless is a critique that rings true. After the letter to Kennedy, the movie moves at a break-neck pace, subtracting from all the gravitas built to that point. Julie Monroe cuts the film like a sophomore college student writing a term paper; she starts great, but when she realizes she has more material than she needs for the paper’s length limit, she tries to jam everything in at the end.
Conversely, Chad Keith is in top form recreating the look of the 1960’s; even though one scene has a disc brake symbol on a car, you’d only find it if you were looking for it. Cinematographer Adam Stone uses a lens fogging technique to help capture the period. Everything in the 1960’s was a little foggy, anyway.
LOVING had potential as a dramatized slice of history. The editing and the unintended messages hurt the film’s impact. As such, LOVING is worth a view, but not worth the price of a theatre ticket.
THE GRADE FOR LOVING = D.