“Loving,” written and directed by Jeff Nichols, is an important film that reaches beyond the movie screen. It tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple whose legal battle after their marriage in 1958 changed our country, in a very simple, straightforward fashion that allows the audience to identify with the characters.
Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga play Richard and Mildred, two very average Americans who simply wanted to get married, raise a family and share each other’s company. The trouble was he was white and she was black, and their home state of Virginia banned interracial marriage. Their legal battle began after a state prosecution resulted in them being banned from Virginia for 25 years.
Though the Lovings attempted to live for five years in Washington, D.C., they eventually returned to Virginia because they missed their family, friends and a simple country life. But they always lived with a cloud hanging over their heads, and it was with the help of a couple of ACLU lawyers that the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that states could not interfere with the basic human right of marriage.
Anyone watching “Loving” will immediately be reminded of life in our country today. Prejudice is like a vampire, and while sunlight in the form of reason can throw it into the shadows, it gathers ugly strength as it promotes fear and hatred in the darkness.
Look at our recent presidential election and try to tell me that racism has been eliminated in our country. The ban on interracial marriage occurred less than 50 years ago, and there still is a wide attempt to find a way to ban gay marriage based on religious principles.
Additionally, consider the national outcry concerning our use of bathrooms. The question is not about who you stand next to at a urinal, but discriminating against transgendered citizens.
What happened to the Lovings is being felt by millions of African-Americans who have been denied the right to vote based upon changes falsely claimed to eliminate fraud. While no voter ID is required for absentee voting done largely by white citizens, it affects only those living in the inner city and metropolitan areas who don’t have access to the appropriate forms.
As we watch “Loving,” we should all contemplate what it is like to be a Muslim citizen of our country today. Basic constitutional rights apply to all citizens, not just some of them. And, regrettably, an Indiana legislator wants to pass a law banning abortion in our state. If you can now overturn Roe v. Wade, and prevent a Hoosier from terminating a pregnancy after she is raped, then is banning interracial marriage next on the hit list?
See “Loving” and contemplate the consequences.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
I should begin and end with the simple statement that “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a 2-hour, 13-minute joy ride. I loved every blasted minute, and you need to see it with or without children.
Directed by David Yates and with a screenplay by J.K. Rowling, it brings to the screen all of the drama and wonder seen in the eight “Harry Potter” films. Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, a British writer entering New York in 1926. With him is a suitcase containing an assortment of magical creatures, and all hell breaks loose when several of them escape.
As he tries to hunt down his magical escapees, Newt ends up befriending Jacob Kowalski, a solid, likeable guy who suddenly ends up with his life on the line after the two mistakenly exchanged suitcases. Daniel Fogler is memorable playing Jacob, and you end up desperately rooting for him to follow his dreams and leave a boring factory job so he can open a bakery.
New York harbors a large group of wizards, warlocks and witches, and their attempt to maintain their anonymity is put in jeopardy with creatures doing damage to the city. Colin Farrell is wonderful playing the villain Percival Graves, a guy dedicated to getting control of a vicious beast that will force everyone to choose between subservience and destruction.
However, the strength of this colossal film comes from the performances of Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol, who play sisters who lend a crucial hand to help Newt and their city. Waterston plays Tina, a no-nonsense investigator whose affection for Newt will bring a tear to your eye. However, it is Sudol as Queenie that will capture both your attention and your heart. She can read minds, and the growing relationship between her and Jacob is a love story for the ages.
From an entertainment standpoint, I have not seen a better film this year. It contains a wonderful secret that suggests sequels will appear down the road, and I look forward to them with gleeful anticipation.
In the meantime, be advised that the film has an emotional ending that is likely to have you looking for tissues. Buy a ticket. This is one great cinematic ride.•
Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.