CANNES, France – On Sunday morning a new film slayed the rest of the competition. “Loving,” starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga and directed by Jeff Nichols, moved past festival favorites “American Honey” and “Toni Erdmann” to get to the number one place.
Richard and Mildred Loving (Edgerton and Negga) are an interracial couple living in Virginia in the late sixties. He works in construction, she wants to raise kids on a large plot of land. In the very first scene of the film Mildred declares, “I’m pregnant.” They form an average couple living in an America that’s prosperous, but also one where the civil rights fight has begun, and soon people will rise up against the Vietnam war. The first echoes of conflict ahead reverberate. As it were, Mildred is black and Richard is white, so their union is illicit in the state of Virginia because of the anti-miscegenation laws that have been on the books since the late seventeenth century. After they are arrested, a judge offers them to leave the state of Virginia for twenty-five years or risk incurring a jail sentence. They will have to find ways to circumvent the law, have their sentence struck down or change the laws. They will accomplish all three.
Nichols has written and directed a film that is flawless–a perfect 10.
But what makes it a perfect ten? The acting? The directing? The cinematography? Cohesion of vision? Because it sounds to me like it runs the risk of being “Oscar bait.”