CANNES, France (AP) — Jeff Nichols’ quiet drama about the profound and simple love that toppled interracial marriage restrictions in the United States made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday.
The film, “Loving,” stars Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton as Mildred and Richard Loving, whose marriage got them jailed and exiled from Virginia but ultimately led to a landmark 1967 Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality.
“Loving,” which will open theatrically in the heart of awards season in November, is an unconventional civil rights drama in that it doesn’t swell with amplified Hollywood moments or a heroic courtroom climax. Instead, it’s a straightforward portrait of the couple.
“I wanted to make a movie about two people in love,” said Nichols, the Arkansas director of “Mud” and “Midnight Special.” ”I truly believe this is one of the most pure love stories in American history.”
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Nichols said he wanted to make the film outside of politics, though he referenced the story’s obvious resonance to today. Lost in the pitched political battles, he said, are the lives of the individuals.
“We can talk about bathroom laws and all of this ridiculousness because it’s not attached to people,” he told reporters, referring to the North Carolina bill that restricts public facility use by transgender individuals to their biological sex. “It’s just these politics ideas and I think that’s a waste of time.”
The Lovings were humble, reluctant heroes, themselves. Their tender marriage was famously photographed by Life magazine’s Grey Villet (Michael Shannon in the film) in 1967 with the headline: “The Crime of Being Married.”
For Negga, the Ethiopian-Irish actress of AMC’s upcoming “Preacher,” the role was a personal and professional culmination.
“It was like being with a friend for two years,” she said of Mildred. “I fell deeply in love with Mildred and Richard and their story. I think we all just wanted to do them justice.”
“One of the things that struck me while working on this film is, what happens between two individuals is nobody else’s business,” Edgerton said.
Focus Features will release “Loving” in North America on Nov. 4.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP