Loving ⭐⭐⭐1/2

It would be hard to find a more understating film, but it’s not surprising if you’ve seen any of writer-director Jeff Nichols’ work before, knowing his tendencies to take the road less travelled and as a master of that understatement that in turn makes his films so special. Here, his take on a very emotional subject of civil rights in an interracial marriage context in 1950s Virginia is to downplay that emotion and repress it so much as to be barely bubbling underneath the mundanities of life shown on screen. The deliberately paced film focuses the audience’s attention on the nuanced, subtle but powerful performances of Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, doing so often wordlessly but nevertheless simmering with conflicted emotions, especially Negga who so richly deserves her Oscar nomination. Some scenes with the litigators can be more elegantly handled but otherwise, this is well written and directed by Nichols. However, as engaged as I was with the film’s consistently matter of fact portrayal of love and injustice, perhaps a little more passion and jubilation would not go amiss at the end of the film. Having said that, I would gladly take this calmer and more level-headed style of drama over the fake hysterical ones you will get with a less challenging and less confident filmmaker any day.

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