There is no question that the right actor in the right part can transform a satisfying film into an unforgettable one.
“Middle of Nowhere” features a brilliant, touching performance by Panamanian/American actress Emayatzy Corinealdi who plays a medical student forced to reevaluate her life after her husband is incarcerated.
In the first few scenes, we are given a snapshot of the dire situation in which Corinealdi’s character Ruby finds herself after her husband Derek (Omari Hadwick) is sentenced to 8 years at a maximum security prison on the outskirts of town. As the couple grapples with how to handle his lengthy sentence, Ruby’s world is marked by shame and separation, guilt and grief. She drops out of school to maintain her marriage from beyond bars and fights to support her husband on the inside and survive her own identity crisis on the outside. But after a chance encounter with a handsome stranger (David Oyelowo), and a stunning betrayal shakes her to the core, she veers in a frightening direction of self-discovery.
“This story is about a woman in a relationship that has taken an unexpected turn and it shows how the impact of incarceration affects everyone and everything it touches, not just the inmate,” Corinealdi says
Few actresses radiate the focused intelligence that Corinealdi delivers onscreen. The actress whose credits include roles in “The Young & The Restless,” and “Cold Case,” is featured in nearly every frame. Her eyes reflect every emotion she conveys on screen and she breathes life into character with warmth and grace.
“I prepared for ‘Ruby’ by thinking about the women who have crossed my path who have had those experiences [of loving someone who is incarcerated],” shares the actress, “and worked to tap into how they felt, and I thought about my own personal experiences with love. She’s a woman willing to sacrifice for those she loves whether it’s her mother, nephew, husband, or sister. She loves from her whole heart.”
The daily visits across town to visit Derek in jail are particularly poignant, adding there is a lot of life and warmth in the friendship that builds between Ruby and Brian, a bus driver she meets on her way to work. There is even excitement and suspense for at one point, Ruby ventures to a lounge where Brian hangs out in hopes of seeing him there.
“He’s the right man for the right woman at the wrong time,” Oyelowo explains. “He very much represents the “what if,” the maybe. It’s the possibility of something else that throws Ruby into an emotional tailspin.”
A gifted director, Ava DuVernay, who won a best Director Award for the movie at the Sundance Film Festival, lets the movie breathe taking her in time setting up each scene. Without any special effects, the movie tells a slow, gentle story of love, life, camaraderie and growth, with an ending that’s equally satisfying.
Powerful, poignant, thought-provoking and finally irresistibly uplifting, “Middle of Nowhere” is an excellent metaphor for overcoming our own private prisons