The most romantic film of the year, hands-down, is the appropriately titled The Loving Story. Nancy Buirski‘s documentary charts the experience of Richard Loving, a white man, and his wife Mildred, part black, part Native American, whose marriage was declared illegal by their home state of Virginia in 1958. They were given a suspended prison sentence and banished from the state for nine years through then-extant miscegenation laws, but the couple resolutely refused to leave each other, or their home. Enlisting the help of the ACLU, their case eventually made its difficult way to the U.S. Supreme Court. There, in 1967, the laws against interracial marriage were finally struck down. Using abundant, amazingly fresh, newly discovered film footage shot half a century ago by Hope Ryden and Abbot Mills, who were intent on recording the Lovings, plus photographs and interviews, Buirski creates a compelling, deeply human and context-savvy portrait of this seemingly most ordinary, yet extraordinary, of couples. Intimate footage of the Lovings reveals them to be a boon to the camera as well, strikingly attractive: she a willowy beauty, and he a handsome, All-American crew-cut jock, like Mickey Mantle or one of the early astronauts. The affection they freely share before the camera is even more impressive, as are their two lovely children playing about them.
Film Journal International
December 6th, 2012 (full review here)
All of the above is recounted in heartbreaking fashion in The Loving Story, a combination biopic and courtroom drama directed by Nancy Buirski. What makes the film so touching are the reams of archival footage of the unfortunate couple at the center of the controversy. For the lovebirds are so young and so innocent, it’s hard to fathom why anyone would even seek to separate let alone imprison them. A moving, must-see documentary about the Lovings’ belated vindication and the elimination of one of the last vestiges of segregation. Could it be more fitting that the litigants in the landmark case eradicating the crime of loving a person of a different color would be named Loving!
Electronic Urban Report (EUR)
December 9th, 2012 (full review here)
Perhaps the strongest aspect of the doc is that it allows the Lovings to tell their story in their own words. The Lovings weren’t leaders in the movement, they didn’t march alongside the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. or Medgar Evers. But it’s there ordinariness, so honestly displayed in the film, that makes their place in history all the more poignant. In one piece of rare footage, when asked about her role in the civil rights movement, Mildred humbly explains, “I wasn’t part of the civil rights movement. We were just trying to get back to Virginia. That was our goal: to get back home.
December 9th, 2012 (full review here)
Well-timed and well crafted in equal measures, The Loving Story is a thoughtful, terrifically intimate account of the case that dismantled this country’s anti-miscegenation laws 100 years after the abolition of slavery. The story of Virginia couple Mildred and Richard Loving’s efforts to live and love each other freely captures a critical moment in a civil rights movement whose most recent strides – for same-sex marriage – are just a few weeks old. First-time director Nancy Buirski’s focus on the constitutional tangles that brought Loving v. Virginia before the Supreme Court in 1967 also complement Lincoln’s warm, wonky embrace of the democratic procedural. A wealth of archival footage gives The Loving Story an oddly modern quality. We watch the supremely humble couple (Richard was white; Mildred part black and part Native American) interacting at home, tolerating journalists, conferring with attorneys, and recounting their path to the courtroom: Having been arrested in their home state, the Lovings moved to Washington D.C. Mildred’s distressed letter to Bobby Kennedy set things rolling. Equally compelling is footage of the dauntless young lawyers, Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, who saw much to be gained in one couple’s belief in their rights and even more to be cut away.
December 5th, 2012 (full review here)
In a rich collection of 16-millimeter film, old news clips and still photographs, the Lovings don’t look like two people caught up in a cause, they seem like two people caught up in each other.
The New York Times
February 14, 2012 (full review here)
In all, The Loving Story is a perfect time capsule that illuminates the racist past of our country with a uniquely personal and poignant emphasis. It’s a film that will continue to be enjoyed whether viewed on Valentine’s Day, during Black History Month or any other time of year.
The Hollywood Reporter
February 12, 2012 (full review here)
This story about the Lovings’ courage and determination is enough to make viewers care deeply about a legal decision—a decision that has particular resonance today, given the ongoing battle for marriage rights for same-sex couples. If a documentary can inspire us to look past the politics and punditry to recognize the humanity of the people our laws demonize, then it has certainly done the nation a service.
February 13, 2012 (full review here)
I’ve seen your wonderful film! It’s gripping, moving, and extremely personal. The juxtaposition between these urban sophisticates and rural domesticity is extremely dramatic. Especially with the paradox that the Lovings are cleverer than the lawyers think. It’s not just a story of a forbidden marriage, but of a quiet people who were underestimated by everyone.
Marcie and I just watched The Loving Story and were deeply moved by your fine film. It ranks alongside Let Us Now Praise Famous Men in its stark beauty and searing honesty. The Loving Story should win every award given for documentary film, and I know it will have a tremendous viewing audience when it airs on HBO. It will also have a welcome audience in classrooms across the country.
History Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, Associate Director of the Center for the Study of the American South and former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities
It’s not an LGBT doc, but watch how the extraordinary HBO project The Loving Story, about the 1967 landmark Supreme Court Loving v. Virginia decision that struck down bans on interracial marriage, will impact the legal drive to bring marriage equality for all to this country. Nancy Buirski’s wonderful film, using much archival footage dealing with this landmark case, presents a beautiful, quiet but brave Virginia couple—Richard Loving and his African-American wife Mildred—who, because they were married, could not live in their home state. The other upfront heroes of this amazing story are the two young lawyers who persevered to bring the case to the top court and finally get anti-miscegenation laws throughout the country overturned. The Loving Story, which deserves a spin in theatres, will provoke a re-think of what marriage really is.
Film Journal International
May 3, 2011
The Loving Story is a dignified treatment of one of the most important legal fights in American jurisprudence.
Washington City paper
June 17, 2011
In a world where the most famous documentarians seem to be Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock, it’s refreshing to see a true, non-entertainment focused documentary that still manages to be captivating in a way reminiscent of The Maysles Brothers.
The Independent Critic
(for full review click here)
You’ll cheer at verité footage of the young and menschy ACLU lawyers Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, barely out of law school long enough to be admitted to argue before the Supreme Court. You’ll chuckle at their older selves recalling their first impression of taciturn Richard Loving as a redneck. (He kinda was.) You’ll find yourself wondering in amazement again and again at Mildred’s quiet country manners and her determination to make things better for her family and for other families like hers.
April 27, 2011 (for full review click here)
For the full Variety review seen on our homepage, click here.