Friday, February 24, 2012

MIDDLE OF NOWHERE ~ Review by Stephanie Garrison

Middle of Nowhere

Director/Screenwriter: Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay’s debut Middle of Nowhere is a cinematic success that taps into very real and honest feelings and emotions. Led by newcomer Emayatzy Corinealdi playing Ruby, Middle of Nowhere tells the story of a married woman dealing with the fact that her husband has been sentenced to jail for eight years. In the beginning of the film, we see a conversation between Ruby and her husband Derrick. Ruby tells him that she will drop out of medical school to ensure that she is always there for Derrick, who disapproves but can’t really do anything about it. We flash forward four years, where Derrick is up for early release. During all that time, Ruby has worked as a nurse and deals with her mother and sister. There is not much more to the film than dialogue-heavy scenes and occasional bouts of shouting, but it works. I would consider this movie to be very independent on the mainstream vs. indie scale simply because of how bare it was. Bare in the sense that all we get from the characters are their words and how they react to the others in the scene. It is also bare in the sense that there are no gratuitous sex scenes, crime scenes, etc., it is just about a normal working woman trying to figure out her life when the relationship between her and her husband changes. Ruby must re-evaluate what it is she really wants. Also, one of the main independent aspects of this film is the fact that the lead actress is both an African American woman and in nearly every frame of the film. For her to carry the movie like that is something that we do not see in everyday mainstream films. Because of this, this film also challenges the dominant American myths and stereotypes about how African Americans are perceived in film and the media. There are very few Caucasian people who have speaking roles in the entire film. Ava DuVernay’s debut was very raw and it was very well done. She has a certain knack to not let go of what the audience is looking at. More often than not, we see both Ruby speaking as well as listening and reacting; there are very little cuts between scenes of two or more people, so it forces you to really look. It is almost as if we are watching from afar, as if we are listening to incredibly intimate things that we should not know. I believe Emayatzy Corinealdi will be a known actress very soon after this festival. Her ability to be stunningly beautiful as well as vulnerable is something very rare, and she has something special.

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