Americans have been treated to civil rights stories at the movies for almost a decade now.
It’s hard to find a more eloquent or a quieter statement on these important things than Loving, which is almost invisible in America.
The large American public never got the chance to like it or dislike it and that’s a crying shame, because it is the rare spectacle that shows American virtues and the predicaments of injustice in America and yet does not make civil rights the center of the story. This is a story about Americans and respects their desire to have lives apart from the great motions and actors of politics . . . The movie is everything popular movies these days are not: slow, black & white, tender and protective of private life, cautious and serious about public things, interested in and respectful of American lives.
Equality is not divorced from a happy life warmed by love and dignified by work. Suffering is not without the redemption of justice and public opinion. America is not merely a future of more equality and justice, but also a present where life is worth living.
Richard Loving comes from people so backward, they think black people are as good as whites.
The rights they claim have to do primarily with the privates lives they prefer to live and they incline therefore to preserve as much privacy as possible, when it comes to public things and legal quarrels. Within these boundaries, the movie makes the effort to bring out the suffering of the Lovings and the quiet dignity with which they withstood it. The danger that bitterness or resignation could corrupt their family life, that it could poison their love or the minds of their children is real, but it is never treated as more important than they are. Their normality, if we can call normal that to which people aspire, is luminous for that reason.
To the largest extent now possible to American cinema, this is a movie about what human beings embody and not what they stand up for, or what they believe they stand up for.
It is providential for America that things turned out the way they did, and a needful lesson for our own times. No struggle is guaranteed to come to a good result: It takes certain unrewarded and unloved virtues to endure injustice without being mutilated spiritually by it.