In 1958, a private, soft-spoken couple named Richard and Mildred Loving were married in Washington, D.C. and settled in their home state of Virginia. A few months later, they were arrested in their home in the middle of the night and thrown in jail. The crime: interracial marriage.
Jeff Nichols’ drama Loving (based on Nancy Buirski’s HBO documentary The Loving Story) is a deeply sensitive chronicle of the couple’s union and the Supreme Court case that eventually made prohibitions against marriage based on race unconstitutional. The unanimous court decision in 1967’s Loving vs. Virginia was also used as precedent in plaintiffs’ arguments in favor of same-sex marriage.
But Nichols tells the story, as you can tell from this two-and-a-half-minute trailer, in a remarkably quiet key. “It’s obviously a film that has political significance and social significance,” Nichols tells EW, “but these two people were completely apolitical. And that’s something that drew me to the story. Who am I to talk about racial politics in the 1960s — but I can talk about two people who love each other.”
Loving stars Joel Edgerton, most recently seen in Nichols’ Midnight Special, and Ethiopian-Irish actress Ruth Negga, one of the stars of AMC’s Preacher. Expect to hear both their names a lot as the Oscar conversation warms up. Michael Shannon, who’s appeared in every one of Nichols’ five feature films, has a poignant cameo appearance as Life magazine photographer Grey Villet. His images of the couple in their Virginia home introduced the Lovings to the world.
Check out the trailer (above), plus one of Villet’s Life photographs (below), along with a still from the film. Loving opens on Nov. 4.