REVIEW: Middle of Nowhere

10 12 2012

Middle of NowhereThis might feel like a bit of a rerun for those of you that read my review of “Lincoln,” and for that I apologize.  But I do think it is possible to admire certain aspects of a movie and still not fully like it, and I will fight hard to defend that assertion.

In case you haven’t figured it out already, those are precisely my feelings on Ava DuVernay’s “Middle of Nowhere.”  It’s an incredibly graceful, poised, and carefully restrained film.  It tells a story that needs to be told about the African-American community, and for once, it actually comes from someone inside of it instead of a white man.  And it feels all the more authentic and genuine for it.

But the whole felt like distinctly less than the sum of its parts; all the virtuosity didn’t add up to an emotional connection for me.  Perhaps it was the film’s moseying, elegiac tone and pace that just kept me cooly disinterested in the proceedings.  But for whatever reason, I just felt distanced from the characters rather than drawn towards them.

I know it has nothing to do with the acting, though, particularly Emayatzy Corinealdi (a name I happily copied and pasted from IMDb) in an impressive leading turn as Ruby.  I had flashbacks to Michelle Williams’ character in “Take This Waltz” with Ruby, as both struggled with falling out of love with their husband and being tempted by a much more appealing man.

But in the case of Williams’ Margot, her husband was merely emotionally distant; Corinealdi’s Ruby, on the other hand, has a physical distance as well since her husband is spending five years in prison.  She does her best to stay faithful and upright, but the years take their toll on her.  And Corinealdi lets that show in moments of quiet breakdowns that allow us to marvel at her acting on a very technical level of precision.  Perhaps in the next big role she lands as a result of her turn in “Middle of Nowhere,” she can add a layer of emotional resonance.  B- 2stars

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