Jeff Nichols' remarkable ability to convey so much with so little— little spectacle, little drama, little dialogue, even— cements his status as one of the most exciting American filmmakers working today. His sublime, minimalist take on science fiction Midnight Special premiered at Berlin; three months later, Nichols arrived in Cannes with Loving: a sublime, minimalist portrait of an interracial couple in 1950s Virginia.
Loving is based on the real-life trial of Richard and Mildred Loving who by marrying in 1958 violated the Racial Integrity Act and were thus sentenced to prison. Nichols' measured approach privileges quiet, intimate moments— that racial tensions are presented as merely a fact of life registers their insidious effect on individuals lives more effectively than any protest scene. The Lovings' case spanned a decade before being resolved by the Supreme Court: footage of which we never see, because the Lovings didn't go.
Though small, The Loving case offers a window into a civil rights battle that resonates yet today. Loving opens this week in New York, playing at Regal Union Square and AMC Lincoln Center.