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Scene in DC is our new series highlighting film and television shot in the District.

When a film takes place in D.C., we see the city in one of two ways: either as the seat of American power, or a community where normal folks live. Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, the docudrama is the rare film that lets us see both. It follows Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton) and his wife, Mildred (Ruth Negga) as they start a marriage in Caroline County, Virginia. He is white, she is black, and since the Commonwealth forbids interracial marriage, the pair relocate to D.C., where they marry and have children. Still, Mildred wants to return home, so the ACLU makes their case before the Supreme Court.

The scenes in D.C. have tense domesticity to them. The Lovings are in a typical row house, with kids running around, and they seem miles away from all the pomp and circumstance that sometimes define the city. Nichols ends the film with a lawyer (Nick Kroll) making his case in Loving vs. Virginia, and yet Richard and Mildred are nowhere near the court room. A decent, unsophisticated man, Richard feels humiliated by the legal battle: he wants to raise his family in peace, instead of being made an example of.

This mix of residential neighborhoods and official government business is “This Town” at its most acute. So many decisions are made here, and even when they impact is direct, we still feel like bystanders.