‘Loving’ looks like a gentle human spin on a sadly timely true story

Jeff Nichols is exactly what I want from a working filmmaker. He has a strong sense of voice, he seems to be able to not repeat himself, and he”s got this great big open sense of humanity in his films. He loves the characters he”s making movies about, and I love watching how he approaches each new movie, each new story he tells.

Several people I spoke to after Cannes were effusive about how beautiful his new film Loving is, and I”m excited to see it for myself. Right now, watching Preacher from week to week, I am totally knocked out by Ruth Negga. I read the comic, and I had a very specific picture of Tulip in my head, and Negga absolutely destroyed that. Whatever preconceptions I had about Tulip went out the window, and I”m happy to just watch her interpretation of the character. That”s exactly what I love about translating media from one form to another. Sometimes a performer does something you would never expect, and it can open up a piece of material in a whole new way.

Loving is based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who helped break legal ground for interracial couples in this country thanks to a protracted battle to protect their family. They were married, had children, and still had to spend almost a decade fighting their way from court to court to get the protections that should be provided to any couple. It is mind-boggling to me that I was born two years after the final decision was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. I think of the idea of people having to fight for the legal right to marry someone of a different race as an idea that must have been firmly decided on well before my birth, but that”s just not the case.

Joel Edgerton joins Negga, continuing what seems like a particularly sustained run of great choices, and I”m excited to see Nick Kroll playing a serious role in the film. I think he”s a really strong character actor who commits to whatever he does, and he looks like one of those not-immediately-obvious choices that could really pay off. Overall, though, what strikes me is how even when he”s telling a story that looks to have plenty of emotional fireworks built in, what comes through most clearly is a gentle sense of humanity. I wish this story didn't feel urgent and timely right now, but I trust him to find the right way to tell it.

Nichols really is something special, and I hope this one”s great.

Loving arrives in theaters November 4, 2016.