Quick Hit: Relishing in the silence, too much goes unsaid in this historical drama.
There are a lot of films out there with minimal dialogue. For every film of Tarantino’s, where the characters speak and speak and speak, there’s a movie like The Revenant which focuses more on the actor’s performances visually. I have nothing against these films, though I tend to be more of a fan of dialogue driven pictures, if given my personal choice. This is because, as a fledgling writer, words are part of my craft – I love them, I need them, I live and die by them.
However, there are some movies that leave too much unsaid. I think Loving fits into that category. It follows a man and a woman who eventually challenge interracial marriage laws in the American South. It stars Ruth Negga as Mildred and Joel Edgerton as Richard. As the film begins, everything seems ok. They seem accepted in their community, and it’s not until they are arrested in the middle of the night that it becomes evident that the community they live in does not accept their marriage.
Most of the movie is spent with Joel Edgerton, who is a study in solemn staring at the floor. I mean really: he spends so much time staring at the floor, and so little talking, you can’t help but wonder about the man’s mental state. He goes far past just being a quiet individual, and instead becomes a statue at some of the most inopportune times in the film; moments when he could truly make a stamp on it pass by with nothing said. Ruth Negga steps up to fill this acting void a time or two, but I didn’t get nearly as much from her as I would have expected. Instead, she serves as a foil for the fact that Richard doesn’t really talk – with her only action being that she talks a little more.
The movie relishes its historical importance, but the plot is so cut and dry that there is little that makes this a momentous film, even if it was a momentous moment in American history. You can trace it to the end right after the surprise of them being arrested. In fact, I kept expecting more to happen – an attack, a KKK rally, just something to liven up the film a bit. Even what could have been an extremely surprising and moving moment in the film is watered down by just a cut to a bedroom. This ends up causing a bit of a tiff between the Loving family (yes, that’s their last name), which ends with them moving.
I really don’t have too much more to say with this film. It’s a film that enjoys showing you the same things over and over. This may be meant to emphasize the points of daily life, and if so, it shows that life back then was boring. Every time the volume increased, it grabbed my attention, and also served to keep me awake. Technically, I guess the film has some decent film shots, but characters are often framed in a way that presents them in shadow – whether purposeful or not, I’m not sure.
Overall, a rather boring, pointedly Oscar-bait flick. And Surprise! Ruth Negga was nominated for Best Actress. Just goes to show, sometimes (more than that really) – the Academy gets it wrong. I’m giving this film a “D”.
On a side note - I'm a LIFE magazine collector. Just in case you readers didn't know. These are actual images from the original issue that contained the Loving's story. Enjoy!
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"