I had first heard of the film through a friend of mine. He was quite adamant in his support of it, which increased my curiosity about it. Once it opened in NY, I kept looking for an opportunity to see it. Week after week, I kept missing chances to see it. I finally thought that I had found the perfect opportunity to see it at the Museum of the Moving Image (followed by a post-screening Q&A with writer/director Ava DuVernay herself!), but last-minute circumstances prevented me from attending (the Museum wouldn’t even give me a refund for the $15 ticket I had paid for). It seemed as though I was not meant to see it on the big screen (at least, not during its original theatrical run anyway). But the film gods begged to differ; Middle of Nowhere was booked at the IFC Center and started showing the film on Friday November 30th. I seized the opportunity last week and finally went to see it.
After so long, was the film worth all my efforts to go see it? Before I answer, I pose this question: Can love really go a long way? The film presents us with Ruby (an excellent Emayatzy Corinealdi), a nurse who gave up on med school while her husband (Omari Hardwick) is serving time in prison for illegally selling guns. One could argue that love blinded her from “hearing” her husband’s plea in the opening scene to continue med school so that she could give herself a better life. It’s interesting that Ruby and Lady Justice have one important thing in common: both wear blindfolds, only Ruby’s are metaphorical. Her love for her husband certainly blinded her from “seeing” what her husband was really doing whenever he was “helping a friend move.” It’s true that her love for him came at a price, one that she thought she could pay. But after sacrificing so much for a husband who didn’t really deserve her sacrifices, she finally realizes that she can no longer pay that price and that there are still so many opportunities for her in life (one being a caring bus driver, another being a future where she doesn’t have to struggle financially as a nurse).
If the film begins with Ruby in the middle of nowhere in life, then (spoiler alert!) it ends with Ruby finding a path toward a viable future. The film is about Ruby’s re-awakening; her finding the spark that gave her a passion for life and for med school. With help from bus driver Brian (David Oyelowo, probably best known to audiences as Jacobs from 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Emerson in the upcoming Jack Reacher) as well as her mother (Lorraine Toussaint in an Oscar-worthy performance), Ruby finally takes off the blindfold she’s been wearing for so long.
Ava DuVernay’s latest film is so mesmerizing. I was engaged by the story throughout, and the performances were nothing short of excellent (including Sharon Lawrence in her small role of Ruby’s lawyer). I must admit that I was worried about my expectations being high for this film, but it turns out that I had nothing to worry about. As for my two questions, the first one was rhetorical; I already knew it was going to be worth the trouble I went through just to see it. In no way did it spoil my viewing of the film. As for the second question, I feel inclined to not provide an answer, but to ask you, the reader, to reflect on this question of whether or not love can go a long way. For some, the answer might be yes; for others, the answer is no. Only you can answer this for yourself.