The Simple, Exquisite Cinematography of Loving

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When less is more.

Jeff Nichols’ Loving is the powerful true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and black woman from Virginia whose 1958 union eventually led to the Supreme Court abolishing state laws forbidding interracial marriage. It is a story that needs no frills, no cinematic tricks or stylistic punch-ups, because it stands strong on its own two feet, the story is the spectacle, and as such Nichols’ does as little as possible to distract from his main characters (portrayed by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), their words, expressions, and movements, their emotional connection, and the ignorant, hateful reaction to that connection from the world immediately surrounding them.

To this end, Nichols and cinematographer Adam Stone employed a very simple, naturalistic, almost theatrical camera style that involved just setting the actors in frame and letting their performances dictate the pace and tone of a scene instead of how it was shot or cut.

In the following essay from Screen Prism, the visual simplicity of Loving is explored and analyzed for its effect on the narrative, which is primarily to let it lead the way while the camera acts as a fly on the wall watching things unfold. Loving is far from a simple film, and by employing a simplistic cinematography, Nichols and Stone reveal the complications of character that make the film so memorable and impactful.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist