The Film Stage
Nichols has crafted a beautifully moving and tasteful document of a quietly groundbreaking event, told from a very human perspective.
As polished a film in terms of craft and performance as Nichols has ever made, the director’s trademark considered intelligence shows itself in how subtly it reworks and refreshes the tired conceits of the historical biopic, while still remaining a conventionally appealing and, yes, Oscar-y example of the genre.
It should confirm Nichols' reputation as a mature filmmaker of great tact and intelligence.
Loving is short on grandstanding and hindsight, long on tenderness and honour, and sticks carefully to the historical record. It also features two central performances of serious delicacy and depth.
Nichols—director of Take Shelter, Mud and, most recently, Midnight Special—tells the Lovings’ story in a way that feels immediate and modern, and not just like a history lesson.
The movie's light touch at times makes it difficult to engage with the stakes at hand, and Nichols' reverence for his couple's deep bond is practically so sacred he seems resistant to show any of their flaws.
The Hollywood Reporter
Nichols has delivered a timely drama that, unlike most films of its type, doesn’t want to clobber you with its importance. It just tells its story in a modest, even discreet way that well suits the nature of its principal characters.
Nichols’ film is seemingly less interested in its own glory than in representing what’s right, and though it features two of the best American performances of the past several years, from Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga (neither of whom are American, hailing from Australia and Ethiopia, respectively), its emotional impact derives precisely from how understated they are.
Here is a film with its heart in the right place, an anatomical correctness coexisting with heartfelt, forthright conviction and an admirable belief in the virtue of simplicity and underplaying.... But this restraint sometimes sags into a kind of absence, and means the film itself is a bit rhetorically underpowered.
Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga play the Lovings as refreshingly ordinary people caught up in the swirl of history, but a benign tastefulness overcomes Loving, smothering chances of a meaningful engagement with the material.