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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Loving is a powerful drama inspired by the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), an interracial couple who got married in Virginia in 1958, even though it was illegal at the time. The Lovings are arrested, manhandled, and kicked out of their home as a result, and there are scenes with a menacing air due to others' dark, racist feelings toward them. Verbal threats and insults include the "N" word (and "bastard" is said in reference to the Lovings' children). Expect some social drinking and period-accurate smoking. But ultimately the message is one of hope and courage: Love and compassion conquer all, even hatred and prejudice.
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What's the story?
In LOVING, it's 1958, and Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga) are a newly married interracial couple living in Virginia. They're expecting their first child when they're arrested and thrown into jail because Virginia's miscegenation laws make their union illegal. But their one-year sentence is suspended on the condition they leave Virginia and never return -- at least, not together. Years later, they're living in Washington, D.C., but still longing for their relatives back home and the land on which they grew up and had planned to raise their family. Then the American Civil Liberties Union takes up the Lovings' case on the grounds that they were treated unequally on the basis of race. The fight ends up going all the way to the Supreme Court.
Is it any good?
This drama is the disciplined, steadfast, and ultimately moving story of one of the most groundbreaking cases ever to reach the Supreme Court. With confident hands, writer-director Jeff Nichols traces the hardships that Richard and Mildred Loving faced on their way to helping overturn the miscegenation laws that for years that prohibited marriage between races in some states, including Virginia.
The challenge for filmmakers taking on real-life events is how to show each step in the story -- some of which may seem more process-focused than exciting when translated to the screen -- while entertaining audiences. Loving succeeds because it quietly and confidently paints a picture of a couple and their family who just want to be left alone to live and love as they wish. Edgerton and Negga are up to the task, their performances subdued but powerful. Loving is a triumph.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Loving depicts the historic events at its center. How accurate do you think it is? Why might filmmakers choose to alter the facts? What are the challenges of adapting a true story for the screen?
What does this movie teach us about history and how both laws and public opinion change over time? What other laws targeting specific groups of people have been amended/overturned?
- In theaters: November 4, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: February 7, 2017
- Cast: Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, Ruth Negga
- Director: Jeff Nichols
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, History
- Character strengths: Compassion, Perseverance
- Run time: 123 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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