What daddy doesn’t know, won’t hurt him.
Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) a registered nurse that seemed to have it all with her husband Derek (Omari Hardwick). But when it turns out that he’s getting an eight-year-sentence for drugs, well, Ruby doesn’t quite know what to do. She says that she will remain faithful to him, but eight years is quite some time and she’s still a young, free-spirited, and lively woman who, if she meets someone, won’t hesitate to try something with. And that’s what happens when she meets Brian (David Oyelowo), a bus-driver who instantly takes a liking to Ruby and wants to be a bigger part of her life. However, he doesn’t quite know or understand what Ruby’s got going on in her life, nor does she really want to tell him, either.
Middle of Nowhere is a lot like Ava DuVernay’s debut, I Will Follow, in that it takes basically a premise from a Lifetime movie and does what it can to add some originality and heart to it. Whereas the later failed and didn’t know what it was doing, the former does have a better idea and head on its shoulders; it’s almost as if all of the laid-back emotions from her debut, somehow worked out this time around. Rather than feeling like a movie that’s bored with itself and a little confused of where to go, or what to be about, Middle of Nowhere turns out to be a movie that perhaps, in a certain way, has a little too much to say.
But in a way, that’s better than having nothing to say at all.
And also, it’s great to get a small, subdued and emotionally-driven movie about an African-American woman written and directed by, guess it, an actual African-American woman. There’s an air of authenticity and honesty here that could have only came from DuVernay and it all feels earned; even when the movie does get down into the soap opera-y eccentricities, it still kind of works. We understand that this woman’s story is small, but still has all of the emotional power of the world.
This is also to say that in the lead, as Ruby, Emayatzy Corinealdi is a star. She gets by in the role by being beautiful and not saying much, but in a sense, that is her role and her character; she’s not meant to get on a soap-box and declare her frustrations to the whole wide world. She’s mostly meant to just sit there and settle in her own pit of sadness, mystery, and confusion, and Corinealdi displays all of that, without so much as lifting a finger, or muttering a single syllable. It’s a shame her career hasn’t flown-off the handle since this, but I guess her time will come.
Hopefully, sooner than later.
Because already, as we know, David Oyelowo and Omari Hardwick, playing the two men in her life, have solid careers and are well-known. Why? Who knows? Maybe it’s because their men? Regardless of what the real root of the problem is, Oyelowo is great and charming as the sensitive Brian, whereas Hardwick, even behind a thin-layer of glass, displays a great deal of regret, but also anger and it makes you wonder just how he’s going to come back into the movie, or even why. It’s actually easy to not want him to, because he represents such a silly, almost conventional part of the plot, but we still feel for him, as just another man eaten-up by the system.
Consensus: Though rather too subtle for its own good, Middle of Nowhere is still a solid, well-acted sophomore pic from DuVernay which showed us what she was getting closer and closer to being capable of as a storyteller.
7.5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: AFFRM