Blallywood Film Review: Middle of Nowhere
Indie films play by a different set of rules. The first rule is that there are no rules. That’s what I love about independent features. Though there is sometimes a consistent style, usually a result of budget and fad, independent films are often a unique and welcomed relief from Hollywood big-budget flicks. Tonight I had the pleasure of seeing Middle of Nowhere.
This beautifully contemplative film follows Ruby, a young medical student struggling to maintain her relationship to imprisoned husband Derek. At the top of the film she decides to take a break from school to concentrate on Derek’s needs as he approaches an opportunity for early release. As she becomes exhausted with the hassle of keeping track of Derek’s parole case, she comes to find out that her husband isn’t as decent as she once thought. He is placed on solitary confinement for inciting a riot and gang activity; and at the parole hearing, she discovers he’s had an affair with a female prison officer. In an act of lonely desperation, she decides to spend time with the friendly and handsome bus driver, Brian, who has been giving her a lot of attention on her daily ride home from her shifts at the hospital. What blossoms is an aching intimacy she’s longed for since her husband was arrested. She spends weeks ignoring her husband’s calls and after his parole is denied and a great deal of thought and soul-searching, she decides to leave her husband to fend for himself and press the play button on her life that’s been paused for five long years.
Winner at Sundance for Best Direction, the film’s players include a stunningly fragile Emayatzy Corinealdi as Ruby, Omari Hardwick (from For Colored Girls…) as hardened and secretive Derek, and David Oyelowo portraying a warm and sincere Brian. Other supporting players include a familiar Lorraine Toussaint and a luminous Edwina Findley as Ruby’s down to earth sister Rosie. The first thing worth noting is that the film moved in a very careful and responsible way. There was a very clear cinematic point of view. We never saw what life was like behind bars for Derek, so we experienced the same emotions that Ruby did. The uncertainty, loneliness, and frustration were visceral for the viewer in an exciting way. This approach made the conflict much more real. Watching Ruby go through her daily routine provided a nice tempo for this theme of waiting the film beautifully explores. We are truly in the contemplative mind of this astute woman struggling to be a good wife but longing to be true to her own desires. For a movie tangoing with exhaustive stereotypes like baby mama drama, imprisoned black male, young black single mother, and lonely black embittered middle-aged black mother; this film handles these pervasive issues in a refreshing and realistic way. Go check it out! B+.