Middle of Nowhere - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Middle of Nowhere Reviews

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½ October 28, 2012
Middle of Nowhere, Ava DuVernay‚~s second feature which won her the Directing Award for U.S. Dramatic Film at this year‚(TM)s Sundance Film Festival and which just received nominations for Best Feature and Breakthrough Actor from the Gotham Awards, is a pretty damn unforgettable film. It‚(TM)s also the kind of film that probably won‚(TM)t be seen by all that many people but that really, really should. I know so many good films will start flooding theaters at this time of year and the smaller ones will undeniably fall through the cracks for many, but even if you have to go out your way to avoid making Middle of Nowhere one those films you really should, this is one made for smart adults and it‚(TM)s a little gem that shouldn‚(TM)t be overseen.

Emayatzy Corinealdi, the receiver of that Breakthrough Actor nomination, plays Ruby here, a bright medical student who must put her dreams on indefinite hold when the news hits her that her husband will be incarcerated. It‚(TM)s a wonderful film as we see her drop everything to live this new life, committed to a relationship that will have to endure a forced separation for eight years, with the shame that comes with it.

Eventually stuff will happen that will send Ruby through a process of self-discovery that that‚(TM)s amazing to watch. It‚(TM)s a slow-boiling kind of film, that much is true, but it will quietly and steadily really get to your soul as it touches on this emotionally complex side of African American life that you don‚(TM)t see in movies all that often. I loved this film because of the people it presented, because of how moving their plight, how easy to recognize their emotions, how haunting a character-driven film it is and how accomplished a director Ms. DuVernay establishes herself to be here.

Maybe you already knew Ms. DuVernay as a fine director, after all her feature debut from last year, I Will Follow, was championed by Roger Ebert which is always a good indication, but maybe like me this is your first exposure to her work. Like I said, though, for many this will be neither their first or their second exposure, for many it will take longer to find out about this film or I Will Follow(which I plan to watch sometime this week) and it‚(TM)s just unfair. These films, the kind that pose a very specific reality and manage to transcend that to speak a universally human truth, are the kind that stay with you and shouldn‚(TM)t be missed.

Because the story really is rather simple, it touches on loneliness and loyalty to your significant other, things anyone can relate to, but what sets Middle of Nowhere apart from the rest of the pack is that it‚(TM)s no so much about the story as it is about the storytelling. In the way Ms. DuVernay decides to show us this story it feels artful and in the way she relies on her actors more than she does on her own screenplay it shows an unwavering sense of confidence, how she uses their faces to really reveal the emotional depths this film so wonderfully explores.

That will be brilliantly evident when you see how amazing Ms. Corinealdi is, when you see how she portrays these emotions in scenes that don‚(TM)t seem to be acted out at all, that don‚(TM)t seem to be following a script but rather just seem to be happening right then and there inside of her. The film is pretty much all about what Ruby is feeling deep inside of her and you need a tremendously gifted performer to bring all of that to the forefront for us as an audience to understand and relate, and Ms. Corinealdi achieves that and then some.

Plus Ruby‚(TM)s just a damn great character, and props to Ms. DuVernay for creating her. I mean, think about it, it‚(TM)s not often at all that we get a film that‚(TM)s centered on the life of an African American woman, and when we do it‚(TM)s either a ridiculously comedy or an unbearable melodrama; that we can get a film nowadays in which we just see this woman being, just thinking and feeling more than actually talking, is a rare event that we should really treasure.

You can say so much about Ruby‚(TM)s decision to put her life on hold and dedicate herself to her imprisoned husband, you can say it‚(TM)s awfully loyal or, like Ruby‚(TM)s mother, you can call it dumb because, after all, he was sent to prison for something. Ruby must take these horribly long trips to visit her husband which really brings forth a larger sense of how lonely she is and, obviously, means that she can‚(TM)t do much of anything else with her life. Which is why it throws her for such an internal loop when she begins something with David, the kind bus driver played by David Oyelowo.

I know it‚(TM)ll be tough for people to see this film. Black audiences, for the most part, only go to see films made by their community when they‚(TM)re about rappers or gangsters or Tyler Perry; white audiences, for their part, won‚(TM)t be rushing to see such an introspective little indie made with an all-black cast. It‚(TM)s a tough sell, not all films transcend their limitations like Precious, and I‚(TM)m no one to pass judgement as to why it is or how to fix it. I am, however, a lover of films, and as one I urge you watch this one.

Not because this will be about something big or anything like that, though. No,Middle of Nowhere doesn‚(TM)t tackle any of the big social issues Ruby may be experiencing, it‚(TM)s not about racism or an indictment on the justice system or anything like that at all. You should really seek out this film for its artistic merit alone, for the fact that it has the courage to really get into some complicated emotions and doing it on its own terms, with a narrative that may take a while to gather any kind of momentum but that really pays off in the end. This is an unmissable film from a tremendously gifted director and a star-making performance, what more do you need?
Super Reviewer
½ October 23, 2012
"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.
October 22, 2012
listen to interview with Ava DuVernay on CPR(Colorado Public Radio), 10/22/12.This is how I heard about it. I am taking my daughter this week!
October 21, 2012
Great movie and great acting.
October 20, 2012
Really, really good movie. A story that you almost never see in theaters. Corinealdi gives a really strong performance & is so beautiful. I want to see more from her soon.
October 19, 2012
Strong performances, interesting story with universal human themes about love, loneliness, loyalty, and loss.
October 19, 2012
ese negrito de Omari se ve muuuuuy bueno!!! yo quiero uno asi!!!
October 17, 2012
The characters were portrayed with intense but delicate emotion. Very good acting. This movie is well worth seeing.
October 16, 2012
I loved the realistic portrayal of the characters. The lead portrays pain so well without even speaking. You get the sense that she became strong enough to figure out what is right for herself in the end.
½ October 16, 2012
A unique gem in a genre of tired formulaic melodramas, 'Middle of Nowhere' attempts and mostly accomplishes something that many movies cannot - it humanizes a struggle most people can't identify with. A refreshing look at the little covered topic of being married to someone in prison, 'Middle of Nowhere' sets the audience as both judge and friend of the main character, Ruby. She is not a heroine in the traditional sense, and in many ways she is her own worst enemy. Her steadfast loyalty to a husband who isn't clearly loyal is at times infuriating. As the movie unfolds, we see that Ruby's circumstance is largely of her own making. Consequently, many times it's hard to feel sympathy for her. Yet, by the end, I found myself rooting for her. This movie was powerful because it makes the audience wrestle with blame, guilt, sympathy, and compassion. Although most of the audience have never or will never be in the main character's position, it's hard not to identify a moment in our own life when we were stuck in something we weren't supposed to be in and couldn't see the forest for the trees until we came out of it. This movie is about the journey out.

The cinematography is really great, the soundtrack is ethereal and fantastic.

My only complaint was that some of the director's choices for lingering shots dragged a bit too long, and put the movie at risk for coming across as pretentious. Still it wasn't enough to take away from the impact Ruby's story had on me. It's a story that needs to be told, and heard.
October 15, 2012
Powerful sophomore effort from emerging indie filmmaker Ava DuVernay. Strong, poignant, and often captivating in it's brutal honesty, DuVernay's storytelling is revealing without being showy; precise but universal. It's a gift that was on full display in her first film, I Will Follow, and she builds on that sense of emotionality in Middle of Nowhere by expanding the scope of her story while keeping in tact the specificity of character that made her debut such a revelation.
October 14, 2012
looks like a good drama film
October 14, 2012
M.O.N. is an outstanding portrayal of quiet pain, that is told through small details, insightful dialogue, and the expert directing by Ava DuVernay of an ensemble cast that will have everyone excited to see both the director's and the actor's net project.
October 14, 2012
at first it didnt seem worth watching, but some of these reviews are incredibly positive.
½ October 13, 2012
An emotional journey. Great acting, I was totally drawn in. A must see!
October 13, 2012
Impeccably crafted. The best film I've seen all year.
October 13, 2012
Favorite of the year. The powerful performanes driven by a strong script pack a punch of an emotional weight that feels real and sinks into your being. Heartfelt, heartbreak and uplifting.
October 12, 2012
Won't unseat 'Love Jones' but pretty good flick that far too few will prob check out
February 12, 2012
This powerful film chronicles the journey of Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) , who chooses to place her priorities on her marriage rather than her own career and personal fulfillment ‚" a decision made particularly difficult by the fact that her husband Derek (Omari Hardwick) has been sentenced to 8 years in prison. The film explores issues of commitment, faithfulness, redemption and hope. Ava DuVernay, who both wrote and directed the film, weaves an engaging tale of a woman caught between emotion and reason, hope and despair, trust and betrayal.
The story is told through the black box of Ruby‚(TM)s experience. The ambiguity of the film vividly expresses the sense that Ruby sees through a glass darkly. Outside of the visitor‚(TM)s room and the parole hearing office, we never see inside of the prison ‚" we have no idea how her husband is behaving in prison ‚" we just have to sort through the contradictory evidence we hear from her husband and the prison staff.
The film is told using an extensive number of dream sequences. We can‚(TM)t tell whether these are memories Ruby is recalling, or hopes of a better future which she cherishes. Although confronted by factors outside of her control ‚" her husband‚(TM)s choices, the criminal justice system, the lack of support from her family and friends, the unsolicited attention of her bus driver, the abandonment of her case by an attorney ‚" Ruby is a strong woman. She lets go of the things that she can‚(TM)t change, and takes positive steps to address the things that she can.
The movie takes place in between the forgotten and the foreseen, that which is long lost and that which is long awaited. In a powerful scene toward the end of the movie, Ruby reflects that she is in a middle place ‚" she has expectations of what should be, shame for what is, and dreams about what could be. The movie ends ambiguously, without us knowing whether her husband turned around, or whether or not she waited for him.
The film did an excellent job of portraying the hope and despair of a person caught up in forces beyond their control. We live our lives so much of the time between our memories and our hopes, amidst disappointments, often misunderstood by family and friends. Ultimately, it is our faith ‚" our hopes and dreams projected onto the reality we are experiencing, which will guide our choices.
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