There's a conversation about to sweep the nation and it's going to be about Loving and the courage it took to do it; for the real-life Richard and Mildred Loving to challenge the law forbidding their interracial marriage and for Hollywood to take a chance in telling this remarkable story. Many can't believe that such a significant part of our American history hasn't already been splashed on the big silver screen, but I don't feel there's been a better time for stories like this than right now, particularly, as our nation grapples with tough issues, heated debates, and extreme political divisiveness surrounding race and class. I think we can all agree that America is in great need of healing, as well as a much deeper understanding of the many layers of our textured racial history. From Birth of a Nation to Loving, the race conversation is sweeping the nation.
"It felt like something that needed to be talked about," writer, director, producer Jeff Nichols, (Mud and Midnight Special), told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet at the Loving premiere here in LA.
Nichols was inspired by the Nancy Buirski 2011 HBO documentary, The Loving Story, which won a Peabody Award. The documentary used archival footage of the Lovings at home, news broadcasts following crucial court moments, and intimate photos captured by Life Magazine photographer, Grey Villet.
"I think it's a foundational part of our American history," Nichols continues. "And I don't understand why more people don't know about it."
This tender and moving film, in theaters this weekend, celebrates the courage and strong conviction of Mildred and Richard Loving - a real-life Virginia couple who was actually convicted and thrown into prison in 1958 for the felony of interracial marriage. Exiled and having to flee Virginia to raise their children, the Lovings and their lawyers also raised their voices and took their civil case all the way to the Supreme Court, where this committed country couple won a unanimous decision in 1967 to flip the law that kept them, and so many other interracial couples like them, apart. Yep, ole' Jim Crow finally got his dirty hands cut out of marriages, thanks to the heroic Lovings. Isn't it even crazier that Loving is the couples real last name? God surely has a sense of humor! And we surely need it when we talk about race in America.
The pacing of Loving allows for a more introspective look at Mildred and Richard while they are threatened and challenged every painful step of the way of their fierce fight to legalize their marriage. As one reviewer put it, the Lovings became "accidental revolutionaries" in the process. One of the most profound scenes for me is when a family friend suggests that Richard just give up and divorce Mildred - make life easier for everybody. It hurt my heart to see the man's silent anguish and unrelenting internal torment as he has heavy decisions to make as the head of his racially-mixed family in the racially-charged South. Joel Edgerton plays this role to the tee. A quiet storm. A man of heart and steel. And he ain't bad to look at either! And how he transformed that thick Australian accent into a backwoods Southern one, still baffles me - a Southerner. He told me at the Loving premiere - he had a whole lot of coaching!
And there's already Hollywood buzz about the Oscars, Golden Globes, and even more awards loving Loving, particularly Ruth Negga, who beautifully portrays Mildred Loving in soft, yet significant tones rarely seen.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, director, writer, producer, Jeff Nichols, and the entire cast and crew of Loving will be highly celebrated this award season," says African-American Film Critic Association member, Carla Renata. "In a year that started out with #OscarsSoWhite - well, that's no longer the case going into the end of 2016. This year is the most exciting year we've had diversity wise - since Halle Berry and Denzel Washington won the Oscar and Sidney Poitier was given an honorary Oscar." (For more of Carla's review, visit TheCurvyFilmCritic.com)
Already being called a masterpiece, even Oscar winners themselves are taking note. Lupita Nyongo, who won the 2014 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in 12 Years a Slave Tweeted:
"A story of the most gentle & effective activism I have witnessed.
I strongly urge you and the whole family to go see Loving this weekend. It's also a great date night movie, especially if you are in an interracial relationship. I thank Jeff Nichols and Focus Features for bringing us this heartfelt story of how true love endures all -- even hatred and time. As I say on the cover of my new novel, Destiny Lingers, in which my main characters, Destiny and Chase, tell their own interracial love story; The laws that kept them apart could never separate their love. Time moves on ... but destiny lingers ... It certainly did for Mildred and Richard Loving.
Before I left the premiere, I left Joel Edgerton a copy of my new novel, Destiny Lingers. We shared how we both hope our art will help bring more peace, love, and understanding to our troubled world. Stories can make a huge difference for humanity. And I know it's a God wink that my romance novel and the Loving movie are out at the same time, particularly, at this particular time in our American history.
Here's the movie trailer --
So, now, tell me ...
How do you feel about interracial marriage? What have your interracial relationship experiences been like? Do you feel we Americans are really as tolerant as our nation's law implies?
Please share your thoughts ...