The movie Loving is getting early awards show buzz out of Cannes for its portrayal of an interracial couple whose historic court case in 1967 struck down Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law.
Screened for press early on Monday, Loving follows the story of Richard Loving (played by Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga), a couple who shortly after eloping in 1958 in Washington, D.C., faced a year in jail for violating state law.
Despite leaving their hometown in Virginia to avoid jail time, the pair eventually fought against the ban in a case taken on by the American Civil Liberties Union. The Supreme Court, in its Loving v. Virginia ruling, overturned the law and made interracial marriage legal in the state. (Notably, the case was referenced in last year’s Obergefell v. Hodges same-sex marriage ruling.)
This is the type of material (historic, inspiring, racial) the Academy traditionally loves. The Hollywood Reporter’s Gregg Kilday applauded the performances, writing:
Both performers should enter the best actor and actress conversations. Edgerton, who previously received good notices for his violent Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby and his conflicted FBI agent inBlack Mass, plays Richard Loving as a man of few words, who keeps his eyes down and his emotions bottled up. Negga, though not as familiar to American audiences, plays the more optimistic half of the couple, rooted to the land and protective of her three children.
Variety also thinks Loving “will inevitably factor heavily in year-end Oscar conversations.” However, its critic praised the film while also describing it as “too damn polite.” Vanity Fair agreed “there’s something troublingly inert about Loving.”
The Oscars will probably eat it up either way, since the Academy is no doubt looking to rebound from the whiteness of last year. THR notes that “while Loving...is likely to be lumped together with other films that could help the Academy avoid a replay of #OscarsSoWhite, it really shouldn’t be viewed as part of some sort of affirmative action initiative.”
Image via Cannes Film Festival