Jeff Nichols’ brilliant Loving, which stormed Cannes in May before taking the Toronto Film Festival this weekend, seems certain to keep making noise over the coming months ahead of its November release. Quite a contradiction for a quiet, pensive film about Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple in 1960s Virginia who were arrested and convicted for that state’s anti-miscegenation laws, having married in Washington D.C., and fought to preserve their union.
Star Joel Edgerton says this kind of contradiction is at the heart of the Lovings’ story: With the help of Bobby Kennedy and the ACLU, the couple took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, and changed the Constitution in the process. But, as HBO’s documentary The Loving Story — which unearthed newsreel footage and interviews with the Lovings — revealed, these were quiet, unassuming people. “If the film was full of histrionics and melodrama, it would be less loud than you think it is,” said Edgerton, “There’s something accumulative about the oppression of injustice, and these two weathered the storm.”
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Edgerton came to Deadline’s Toronto studio with his co-star, the masterful Ruth Negga, and director Nichols. “There’s such goodness in these two people, and humanity,” Negga noted of the Lovings. “There’s an openness and a non-cynical energy that really shines through. You can’t help but be beguiled by them.”
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“All things spring from Richard and Mildred,” Nichols told me, of the choice to allow the film its quiet composure. “It helps that their personalities suited by style of storytelling. But when you look at the archival footage, it’s pretty undeniable the essence of who these people were, and so the narrative had to reflect that. It wouldn’t have made sense to make a bombastic film, because that wouldn’t have been true to who they are.”
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