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Loving the Movie

lovingsLoving is the movie that my law colleagues have been salivating over since the moment its release was announced. To our satisfaction, Loving succeeds in conveying its message. To the bountiful dissatisfaction of movie lovers, Loving fails in almost every other aspect. This movie is somehow untouched by Hollywood hyperbole and instead strives for historical exactitude and in doing so, much to my chagrin, it pays the ultimate price. A movie about a wonderful subject with a meaningful historical and legal result is essentially rendered insufficient because it strives to remain true to the facts without Hollywood enhancement. What a reversal of fortune.

Here is an excerpt from the case, which includes a full citation and the relevant portion that is expressed in the movie: "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix." Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967). Clearly, by modern standards this language sounds racially charged. In 1967 Virginia, the language may have been commonplace in more rural areas that wanted to be left out of political discourse on race.

Ironically, by standing firm in denying the Lovings the right to marry and to both cohabitate and raise a family, one Virginia county inadvertently, and surely unintendedly, created a sort of national uproar against their bucolic (maybe parochial is a better word) outlook on the marriage between a white man and a black woman.

Many might argue that we owe our marital freedom to instances such as that which happened to the Lovings, but this is not a scholarly article on judicial principles and policies. Rather, it is a concise movie review that focuses less on the hallmark case of Loving v. Virginia, and more on how the movie is almost unwatchable. Loving the movie is painstakingly dull. Romance is missing, passion is missing, intrigue is missing. In a sense, I believe that writer/director Jeff Nichols is owed a debt of gratitude for keeping Hollywood out of this couple’s story, but this is not a documentary, it is a movie. As such, it deserved a little bit of flare. There is no way for audiences to connect with Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga. They have no chemistry. Their romance is seen as nothing more than three babies and a lawsuit. Give us something to sink out teeth into Mr. Nichols. Let us open our hearts, not just our minds to the Lovings. Epic disappointment.

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