Middle of Nowhere has both the appeal of the 90s Black cinema classics, mixed with the vibe which has made Black web series so popular, and truly it makes you have hope for Black cinema’s future if Ava Duvernay and co. are involved.
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
What we are introduced to is a woman named Ruby (Emayatzy Cornealdi) who is struggling between keeping her marriage to Derek (Omari Hardwick) alive, while pursuing her emotional and educational needs. All the while her sister Rosie (Edwina Findley Dickerson) is trying to deal with being a single mother, like their mother Ruth (Lorraine Toussaint) did, and they watch Ruby struggle with worry. Luckily for Ruby, though, a man named Brian (David Oyelowo) comes into her life and gives her an option. Now, whether she takes the option of her husband or Brian, you’ll have to watch the film to see.
While no tears were shed, I felt grabbed by this film for it reminded me so much of the urban dramas of the 90s. There were complex, yet lovable, characters all around, and it seemed each one had a purpose in developing the story, and furthering our understanding of their peers. Take Ruby, through her we learn more about Rosie and Derek, while she never abandons her own story of trying to keep hope that normalcy with Derek could return; with Derek, he presents this idealized hope for a man locked up who may have made mistakes, but still deserves love, affection, and the attention of his family; and then when it comes to Ruth and Rosie, rather than be spare part characters, there to show Ruby didn’t just appear out of thin air, they also find ways to draw you in. Making it so it is unfortunate that even after an hour and forty some odd minutes, there isn’t more for the audience to receive. A rare compliment since, if you have followed this blog for a while, you’ll know one of the constant criticisms is a film overstaying its welcome.
When it comes to criticism, again it is just wanting to know more. I wished we could have seen more of Derek before he was in prison, especially when it comes to his relationship with Gina (Maya Gilbert), and his daughter; I wish we could have learned more about Ruth and Rosie, and see their backstories; and most of all, I just wished this was a series. For there is so much to give here, and perhaps the one thing I would love to see, especially in light of the popularity of Empire, is urban dramas like this, reminiscent of what we saw in the 90s, getting their own TV shows.
Overall: Worth Seeing
While I stand by the opinion that Selma is a disappointment, I don’t blame DuVernay for it. For with Middle of Nowhere, I can only imagine how good Selma could have been if she got to both write and direct it. For Middle of Nowhere reminds me of why there is always such a clamor for 90s urban romances, and it makes it sad that they have largely died out in order to make room for Cosby Show styled Black people. But I digress, Middle of Nowhere is worth seeing because it instills faith that Black cinema isn’t dead, or restricted to a dozen comedies, and one to three decent dramas a year. Middle of Nowhere, from cast to the director, allows you to believe a renaissance could very well come. All that is needed is time, patience, and putting your support in those who deserve it.