At First Glance: “Loving”

A lot of historical events may have paved the way for something broader, and many people learn about them in a general way, but how much of what occurred do we really know? Learning about something in a history class, especially in depth, probably doesn’t happen often. It’s sometimes through the power of filmmaking that everyone can be treated to vast amounts of information they didn’t previously know. From this special jumping off point, they can even decide if they want to keep learning. See, not all films are loud, flashy, and utterly useless.

The upcoming Focus Features film “Loving”, is already looking like one powerful and memorable film, which hopefully sparks some kind of new conversation, as one can never talk enough about past events.

This biographical drama stars Joel Edgerton (“Midnight Special”, “Jane Got a Gun”), Ruth Negga (“Preacher”, “Warcraft”), Martin Csokas (“Into the Badlands”, “Sons of Liberty”), Nick Kroll (upcoming films “Sausage Party”, “Sing”), and Michael Shannon (upcoming films “Complete Unknown”, “Nocturnal Animals”).

The film is written and directed by Jeff Nichols (“Midnight Special”, “Mud”).

The film is expected to hit theaters on Nov. 4, 2016.
As sad as I am that I don’t get to write about, let alone see, a film that just turned 20 years old this week, I am glad with this alternate. I’m sure I’d still be writing about it regardless, but this made it so much easier for me to choose something for today! I wasn’t, as sometimes happens, even looking for a trailer for this. I’d heard nothing about one coming out, and I think I also just assumed we were still a few months away from getting one. I was wrong, and I’m so glad I was! I think I’ve now officially hit the point where I can’t keep track of how many films this year I really, really want to see. How many I expect to be good, or think have a lot of potential. It’s probably a lot. So, what exactly has me excited about this film?

The big historical context is what draws me in, but I can’t say it’s first. I’m not sure. I’d say this, the performances, and all the little details that will bring this film to life, are what will be drawing me in. Each one equally. I’ve known about this particular period and this specific event in history for some time, however, I don’t think I’ve ever known anything much beyond the surface. I’ve never studied it deeply, nor have I taken the time to learn more. I’m not even sure I’d heard of the documentary on these two individuals, before the news of this film being made. Now, I feel I will get an opportunity. Of course, that’s also where the in depth research will come into play for me. I’ll want to see how much is more or less accurate, and also what else happened too them that we don’t get to see. Historical film’s intrigue me that way. Hopefully for anyone else that watches this film, for whatever reason, some part of them is interested in exploring the Loving’s lives a bit more too.

From an actual film standpoint, a big one has to be Edgerton and Negga, and the performances they’ll give. Right now I feel that these two performances will be nothing short of brilliant. These two actors know how to deliver a subtle performance. This film, like with Nichols’ “Take Shelter”, doesn’t rely on gimmicks or anything flashy or distracting. It’s about character. And in this case, you can plainly see that, plus, I feel that this film had to be approached like this. It’d be one thing if this were a film set against this time period, but not about the Loving’s. This film’s retelling their story, so really making sure they’re at the center is important. This sounds easy, but I feel I’ve seen some films about historical figures, but really, in some way, has them relegated to the backseat. Here, Nichols will probably be able to achieve the balance of a character driven story, and one that provides enough historical and emotional context to understand why this is such an important moment in history.

With regards to the two central performances from Edgerton and Negga, there’s one other thing that’ll make this film so much more important. Chemistry. Lots of chemistry. Now, bear with me, but I feel that chemistry here isn’t what we typically think of chemistry between actors in any kind of film. This chemistry is of a different nature, and must achieve a lot more. I’ve already been sold on their love. I could see and feel it. My God, for a trailer, this one moved me so much. I couldn’t help but tear up, and it wasn’t just from them, but all the events and the horrible way they were treated. To sell me on all that, keeping an eye on the Loving’s story and them as characters, is incredible. I HAVE to see this film. This is the power of filmmaking, and the reason why more studios should take risks. Granted, then we’d probably lose that niche we love to call independent film, but that’s another discussion for another time.

Balance is one thing I’m interested in and excited to see. This film’s trailer, was an emotional roller coaster. Just thinking about everything this film will deal with has taken me up and down, and left me tired. But, will Nichols be able to pull this off? Will some aspect be more weighted than another, or will it all just be a mess that’s admirable? Any one issue with regards to how the audience responds emotionally could hurt the film. With so much going on, from story to the various consequences, and courses of action being taken because of consequences, there’s a lot to keep control of. If EVERY single element doesn’t flow or come together, I feel this film could just be seen as a decent film, that tells one historical film about change. I’m highly optimistic about this film.

Historical films do more than just entertain. They remind us of moments from time long gone by. They provide us with new insights, or some we’ve never previously know. Some, which is what I’m hoping from here, give us a new way to think about something that happened a long time ago. A new context that draws us in more and moves us from merely being a passive observer. For me, I’ve found that there’s more to enjoy and be gotten from a film, of any sort, that can entertain me, deliver amazing performances and visuals, but one that can also provide me with many more things to think about. These could be questions of morality. These could be complex analysis into who someone really was. While a lot of films seem to be dumbed down for the laziest of audience members, there are still those that want so much more from an expensive movie going experience. Perhaps this film will continue to shine a light on this particular aspect of film.

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