If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they are yours. But how long do you wait? In her newest work, "Middle of Nowhere", film publicist turned award winning director, Ava DuVernay, explores this question through a loving young couple sentenced to eight years separation.
Devoting Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) is married to Derek (Omari Hardwick). Like Erykah Badu's "Otherside of The Game," Derek had a complex occupation that earned him eight years in prison. But despite the near decade sentence, Ruby is hopeful he'll get out in five with good behavior. Derek's outlook isn't so optimistic and tries to convince her not to wait for him and go on with her life.
Five years is a LONG time to wait. Things change, people change, and life for Derek on the inside isn't as calm as he claims it to be during Ruby's faithful visits. When she learns of his activities in prison during a probation hearing, Ruby comes to realize her waiting may be in vain and she must decide what's right for her future. This includes exploring a new relationship full of potential.
But trying to hold on to what was while also looking toward what could be, may keep her stuck as the title suggest, in the middle of nowhere. What was once complex is now more complicated. So what will Ruby, whose already sacrificed so much of her life, ultimately choose to do?
With a great cast of new talent like Edwina Findley ("The Wire") as Ruby's loving sister, and some veteran, including Lorraine Toussaint ("Saving Grace") as Ruby's strongly opinionated mother, "Middle of Nowhere" gives audiences a fictitious story that looks and feels so real-- personal even--it could've said in the opening credits "Based on a True Story."
It moves almost like a documentary as we watch Ruby interact with the small group of people in her life. Scenes are not rushed through. Well used camera close-ups pull us into the varied emotions of the characters, especially Ruby and Derek.
One particular scene where Ruby humbly asks her mother for money is expertly done with little dialogue, but great focus on their faces. Just the looks between them well demonstrate their strained relationship.
Overall the poignant "Middle of Nowhere" terrifically represents the untold story of those women and mothers "holding it down" as we say for their loved ones on "lock down." It's the kind of emotional character driven film rare in black cinema. Not stereotypical, nor "hood," but a well acted and thought out timeless work that will touch various audiences regardless of race.