Loving Blu-ray Review

Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga portray an interracial couple in a landmark Supreme Court case

It’s hard to imagine today but it was illegal for interracial couples to marry in Virginia as recently as 1958. Right in time for Valentine’s Day comes director Jeff Nichols’ Loving. The quiet drama is a moving portrait of an interracial couple battling prejudices in the South, eventually winning an important Supreme Court case that would permanently guarantee their right to marriage across America.

Based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, it’s a powerful tale of love winning out over bigotry. Loving is an uplifting story plucked from history that reminds everyone why the social changes of the 1960s were necessary and how far we’ve come.

Young couple Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton in a moving performance) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) make plans to get married after she becomes pregnant. Richard and Mildred are simple, hard-working folks from rural Virginia happily in love. Richard works as a mechanic and plans to build a house for Mildred. What is wrong with their marriage and why is it illegal? Richard is a white man and Mildred is a black woman. Interracial marriages are illegal in the Virginia of 1958. Beyond the social pressures they will have to face for being an interracial couple, their marriage is deemed unlawful and they are forced to move from the only home they’ve known.

Richard skirts the legal issues by leaving his rural county in Virginia, marrying Mildred in nearby Washington, D.C. When a menacing local sheriff learns of the marriage, the young couple are charged and threatened with prison time in Virginia. Their legal journey will ultimately land in the Supreme Court, when a lawyer from the ACLU will argue for their case.

It’s Oscar-caliber work that should have won some recognition

Director Jeff Nichols has crafted a remarkably sensitive, soulful depiction of love overcoming the obstacles of racism and bigotry. This is smooth Hollywood storytelling energized by two fantastic lead performances from Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga. Edgerton embodies the quiet Richard Loving with a powerfully moving reservoir of strength and determination. Richard is less interested in making civil rights history than he is in protecting his family.

Loving doesn’t make the mistake of turning him into some cartoonish civil rights superhero, which occasionally happens in these dramatized accounts of the civil rights fight in America. It’s Oscar-caliber work that should have won some recognition.

Ruth Negga matches Edgerton’s superb performance with a nuanced portrayal of Mildred, a mother and wife that recognizes her marriage should be validated. The narrative is really seen through Mildred’s perspective, from her harrowing time in jail to her insistence in seeing the ACLU lawyer.

Loving is masterful drama infused by a righteous morality that doesn’t suffocate the smaller character beats. While their historic Supreme Court case is Loving’s ultimate destination, the quiet love between Richard and Mildred is the glue that holds everything together.

Nothing is rarely as romantic as two people in love, taking on an entire system that works to keep them apart. That is why Loving smartly works as a testament to the power of love, even more than it does as a reminder of the huge progress society has made since the 1960s.

Video

Universal presents Loving in flawless condition. The new production has sharp, detailed video in 1080P resolution. The 123-minute main feature is encoded in high-bitrate AVC compression on a BD-50. The 2.40:1 movie is a carefully manicured and textured production with sophisticated cinematography.

While lacking the extreme contrast and vivid color palette of impact demo material, Loving is clean picture quality with consistency and depth. The quiet drama is a 35mm film production, which is getting increasingly rarer these days. Universal has done a solid job with the film transfer without introducing technical problems.

It’s a film-like presentation, if somber and muted in overall color palette. Its shadow delineation is strong with excellent black levels. Exteriors exhibit fine depth and dimensionality. The 1080P video lacks the pop and immediacy of blockbuster video quality.

Audio

Loving’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack offers gentle audio separation and nicely layered cues. The dialogue-driven drama doesn’t feature the most engaging surround mix, using its surround presence for softer support. The fidelity is lush, showcasing crisp dialogue in perfect balance with the wider dynamics of the larger sound design.

Several different subtitle options, including English SDH, Spanish and French, are shown in a white font inside the 2.40:1 presentation. A number of foreign dubs are included like Spanish and French in 5.1 DTS.

Extras

Loving comes with a slipcover on first pressings. Included in the set are a DVD copy of the movie and a digital code good for both an UltraViolet copy and iTunes copy.

The special features consist of short featurettes with a plethora of cast and crew, including director Jeff Nichols and star Ruth Negga. Yes, these are largely EPK fluff pieces but they are slickly done. A short documentary on the historic legal battle would have been helpful.

Making Loving (04:28 in HD)

A Loving Ensemble (04:07 in HD)

Loving v Virginia (04:26 in HD)

Virginia: A Loving Backdrop (03:09 in HD)

Feature Commentary with Director Jeff Nichols – Nichols discusses his writing process for Loving and its development into a movie. This is a strongly informative commentary that breaks down some of the historical inaccuracies and other observations.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not influenced DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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