Story

Loving is based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, whose case challenged segregation laws in the United States in the 1960s.

Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) is white and falls in love with Mildred (Ruth Negga), a black woman. When she announces that she’s pregnant, they decide to get married. To do so, they have to travel from their home in Carolina, Virginia, to Washington, DC. This is because interracial marriage is illegal in Virginia.

When they come back to Carolina, they’re arrested, charged with miscegenation and sentenced to jail for 12 months. The judge allows them to leave the state instead, but they’re not allowed to return for 25 years. Some years later, Mildred Loving takes her case to the civil rights movement and a young lawyer, Bernie Cohen (Nick Kroll), agrees to take on the case for free. The case goes all the way to the Supreme Court, which decides that the prohibition on interracial marriage is unconstitutional. The Court puts an end to all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

Themes

Racism; interracial issues; separation of families

Violence

Loving has some violence. For example:

  • Police raid the Lovings’ home in the middle of the night, smashing the door down and arresting both Richard and Mildred in a heavy-handed way.
  • There are menacing threats towards Richard and Mildred.
  • Richard is chased in a vehicle on the way home from work. He arrives home in an agitated state and sends his son to the neighbour’s house to get their gun.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
There is nothing in Loving that’s particularly scary for children in this age group.

From 5-8
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Loving has some scenes that could scare or disturb children aged 5-8 years. For example:

  • Mildred is very upset at having to leave her family behind. Saying goodbye to her sister is particularly upsetting.
  • One of the Lovings’ sons is hit by a car while playing in the street. This isn’t actually shown, but we see him recovering in bed with broken limbs.

8-13
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Loving has some scenes that could scare or disturb children aged 8-13 years. For example:

  • Mildred and Richard are arrested and put into separate jail cells. He’s released several days before she is.
  • Both Mildred and another woman are seen giving birth. (Richard’s mother is a midwife.) There is nothing too graphic, but they are both in obvious pain.
  • Richard has a brick placed in his car. The brick is wrapped in a newspaper sheet with Life Magazine’s story of ‘the crime of being married’.

Over 13
Some children in this age group could also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Sexual references

Loving has some sexual references. For example:

  • Mildred is obviously pregnant at the start of the movie.
  • While Mildred is in jail, a guard brings in a prisoner. As they walk past Mildred’s cell, the guard tells the prisoner he might put him in the cell with Mildred that night.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Loving shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Characters drink socially at various venues, including bars, clubs and homes.
  • Richard smokes cigarettes.

Nudity and sexual activity

Loving often shows Richard and Mildred in bed together, kissing and cuddling, but there is nothing too graphic.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in Loving: Dr Pepper, and Corn Flakes.

Coarse language

Loving has some coarse and racist language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Loving is a real-life drama about anti-miscegenation laws in the US in the 1960s. It’s a moving and compassionate movie, which proves that love can overcome hatred and bigotry.

The movie is quite long and lacks interest for younger children. Although there’s nothing particularly violent or scary, the movie’s themes make it more suitable for older teenagers and adults.

The main messages from this movie are that love conquers all and that quiet persistence wins in the end.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include racial tolerance, racial equality, compassion and persistence.

Loving could also give you the chance to talk with your children about laws designed to segregate races and how racism still exists, even though times have changed since the 1960s.