November 04, 2016 05:00 AM

In 1958 Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving (Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, respectively) drove from rural Central Point, Va., where they lived, to Washington, D.C., to marry.

Those vows in effect banished them from their home state, which for generations had outlawed what was known then as miscegenation — Mildred was black and Richard white.

Then, in 1963, Mildred did something that to her was commonsensical but to most anyone else would seem chimerical: She wrote to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. What resulted was the 1967 Supreme Court decision that struck down any such law as “odious to a free people.”

Loving leads us to this triumph quietly, keeping a tight focus on this modest, soft-spoken couple. But it owes most of its power to Negga: Mildred’s heart and soul never stop drawing her back to Virginia, not just to family but to the land (the fields are beautifully photographed).

Negga makes us feel that Mildred might ultimately have moved mountains.

Loving hits theaters in limited release on Nov. 4.

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