Midnight Special, which came out early this year, is an overlooked science-fiction gem. It might not win everybody over with its mystery, it’s nonetheless a beautiful tribute to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Believe me, it does require repeated viewing (I have yet to re-watch it). Director Jeff Nichols goes back to an important time in American history. A time where racial segregation has become more noticeable. One day, two people have to face the reality of defying the racial barrier of getting married.
Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga) are an interracial couple living in a small town in Virginia. When Mildred announces that she is pregnant, Rich decides to build a house in the middle of a wide-open field and raise a family. They get married, but since this is Virginia, the state has some strict marriage laws. They get arrested, and once they are on bail, they are forced to live in Washington, D.C. The couple does everything they could to settle this case once and for all. They are presented in front of the Supreme Court for the ruling of Loving v. Virginia of 1967.
A movie about the famous racial case would have been corny. What Jeff Nichols does with Loving is anything but. The subtle yet tender chemistry between Edgerton and Negga is one of the biggest highlights. Their expressions say so much, while keeping their dialogue short and sweet (in one particular scene, where Mildred gets off the phone hearing about some good news). This is a couple who fought for their lives while never letting go of that bond, despite their different characteristics. Adam Stone’s exquisite cinematography and the vintage soundtrack crafts a marvelous portrait of a rough time in history.
Of course, it’s not a Jeff Nichols film without Michael Shannon. In his fifth collaboration with the great filmmaker, he has a small yet wonderful role as Grey Villet, the photographer LIFE Magazine hired to take photos of the happy couple in one of the film’s many heartwarming scenes. Loving is one of the year’s best films!