'Loving': Cannes Review

A socially conscious drama that admirably underplays its importance.

Jeff Nichols' drama stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in the true story of an interracial couple who set in motion a major court case in 1950s Virginia.

Making a nice two-cushion shot where most filmmakers would slam hard straight for the pocket, writer-director Jeff Nichols takes an appealingly low-key approach to an important American civil rights story in Loving. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga very ably portray an interracial couple who fall afoul of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act when they marry in 1958, setting in motion a case that will span nearly a decade before being resolved by U.S. Supreme Court. It’s a big subject treated in an unfailingly intimate manner, largely without caricature or grandstanding on either side of the issue, an approach that will generate respect and admiration for this Focus Features drama upon its planned November release.

Working with his regular collaborators, including cinematographer Adam Stone, production designer Chad Keith, costume designer Erin Benach, editor Julie Monroe and composer David Wingo, Nichols has delivered a timely drama that, unlike most films of its type, doesn’t want to clobber you with its importance. It just tells its story in a modest, even discreet way that well suits the nature of its principal characters.

Production companies: Raindog Films, Big Beach Productions
Distributor: Focus Features
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, Terri Abney, Alano Miller, Jon Bass, Michael Shannon, Will Dalton, Christopher Mann, David Jensen, Bill Camp, Michael Abbott Jr.
Director-screenwriter: Jeff Nichols
Producers: Ged Doherty, Colin Firth, Nancy Buirsky, Sarah Green, Marc Turtletaub, Peter Saraf
Executive producers: Brian Kavanaugh, Jack Turner, Jared Goldman
Director of photography: Adam Stone
Production designer: Chad Keith
Costume designer: Erin Benach
Editor: Julie Monroe
Music: David Wingo
Casting: Francine Maisler

Venue: Cannes Film Festival (in competition)
Sales: CAA

Not rated, 123 minutes