Loving (1970)

“Do it your own way, your own style — have fun with it. “

Synopsis:
A commercial illustrator (George Segal) hoping to land an account with a local business owner (Sterling Hayden) cheats on his wife (Eva Marie Saint) with his friend’s niece (Janis Young) while flirting with his neighbor’s sex-crazed wife (Nancie Phillips).

Genres:

Review:
The primary element to recommend about this portrait of a privileged man in midlife crisis is Gordon Willis’s typically evocative cinematography. (I’ve learned over many years of writing reviews for this site that cinematography is often the saving grace of an otherwise irreedemable film. I’ve also learned that nearly any film showing a parent slipping in to wistfully watch their child’s school play performance is a lost cause.) Now, Loving isn’t quite irredeemable — it simply doesn’t feel necessary, unless you want to watch a man obsessing over his lost artistic potential (never mind that he’s making excellent money in a field notoriously challenging to crack into), and neglecting his lovely family on behalf of his young mistress who — in the movie’s dialogue-free opening sequence — clearly just wants him to go away and leave her alone. Do such conflicts consume some people? Sure. Are they worth watching and empathizing with? No, not really. At least Segal is made to look utterly ridiculous in the film’s final sequences, which is something.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Gordon Willis’s cinematography

Must See?
No. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.

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One Response to “Loving (1970)”

  1. Not must-see.

    I first saw this film many years ago. At the time of its release, it was something of an ‘art-house darling’ and much credit went to director Irvin Kershner for – I guess – his handling of what was then considered audacious material. (Kershner’s spotty career includes ‘The Eyes of Laura Mars’ and maybe the only Star Wars movie I like – of the ones I’ve seen: ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.)

    I saw it again years later – and so much time had passed that I hardly remembered the film, but thought I should give it another look. While watching (as I recall), I was finding it a bit of a chore. It seemed to be one of those films which was trying to move us once-and-for-all from the staid ’50s so that we could begin to fully embrace the me-me-me POV that planted its seed in the late ’60s. It also seemed to have a provocative intent without also having any real intent on going anywhere satisfying.

    I don’t recall feeling all that judgmental in my view of it. I do recall feeling… bleh. This is the kind of movie that Pauline Kael was likely to champion. But then… I tended to have issues with Ms. Kael.

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