Middle of Nowhere (2012)
Critic Consensus: Wise, compassionate, and beautifully acted, Middle of Nowhere offers an early testament to writer-director Ava DuVernay's startling talent.
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Critic Reviews for Middle of Nowhere
Made by a black American woman, about a black American woman, it's a study of a culture where the matriarchs are strong by necessity and trapped by circumstance - adrift in the middle of nowhere.
[A] hushed, tenderly observant drama about a young woman trying to do right by herself and her marriage while her husband is in prison.
This is a tough-minded story of change that happens in almost imperceptibly tiny increments - as true growth so often does in reality.
This film is about a particular African-American experience, true, but it's also about the human experience. It will haunt you. It should.
Audience Reviews for Middle of Nowhere
A woman suspends her life to support her imprisoned husband.
There is without a doubt something profound, personal, and authentic about this film, which is to the credit of Emayatzy Corinealdi and writer/director Ava DuVernay, but the plot is plodding and slowly rendered. it's hard to make an exciting film about waiting, so part of the film's problem is the story it's trying to tell. Nevertheless, the film has important things to say about gender roles, race relations, and personal growth.
Overall, Middle of Nowhere tries to rend the most out of its actors and story, but the film's pace ultimately dooms it.
"Middle of Nowhere" starts with Ruby(Emayatzy Corinealdi), a nurse, visiting her husband Derek(Omari Hardwick) at the prison in Victorville. While he is pessimistic about his chances, she reminds him that with good behavior he can get out in five years. Four and half years later, her hope has not diminished a bit, as she still makes regular visits to the prison, on top of her hospital rounds and babysitting for her sister Rosie(Edwina Findley), with their disapproving mother(Lorraine Toussaint) looking on. And then Ruby gets news that Derek may be getting out sooner than even she had thought possible...
"Middle of Nowhere" is a well-acted, modest and understated movie. So much so, that even the grandstanding comes off as subtle. As the movie drops pieces of information throughout, some may find Ruby more than a little naive when in fact she had been dropped into an unfamiliar world where so many women have to regularly endure the emotional and economic hardships that she now lives with. In any case, how could you not like a character who likes foreign films?(In this case, "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.") And, yes, people do ride the bus in Los Angeles.
With powerful performances and subtle and skilled direction, Middle of Nowhere is a moving portrait of what the prison system does to families. It's a film about strong women, by strong women. With its dulled color palate, director Ava DuVernay wants to remind audiences this isn't just a film, this is so close to reality. And the performances elevate the material to that level as well.
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