Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) is a smart girl. She has a good job as a nurse. She is organized and perceptive. And she is unaffected by her exquisite, organic beauty. The only problem Ruby has, is that she is in love. Ruby’s man Derek (Omari Hardwick) is a newly convicted gunrunner staring down an eight-year prison sentence. And Ruby has decided to wait for him.
Ruby puts off medical school, diligently sees to Derek’s legal defense, paying his legal fees with Attorney Fraine (Sharon Lawrence), counting the days until he makes parole, released four years early for good behavior.
Her hard-nosed, judgmental mother Ruth (Lorraine Toussaint) browbeats her into a silence puddle of shame with their every interaction. Despite the stinging delivery, Ruth’s criticisms are stubbornly truthful and valid arguments against the choices Ruby has made for her life.
Her sister Rosie (Edwina Findley) is a struggling, but loving single mother who is determined to find someone new for her sister, even though Ruby insists she will be faithful to Derek. Rosie is let critical, but does more than lecture at Ruby, she finds her a new man.
Enter Brian (David Oyelowo). The bus driver has always been interested in Ruby, but thought she was unavailable until Rosie suggested otherwise. Brian is unbothered by the fact that Ruby is married; he seems willing to allow the relationship to develop however Ruby desires. She is resistant at first, and Brian is happy to give her space, or cease the pursuit all together, at least at first, leaving the balls all in her court.
Brian’s interest in her, coupled with the new revelation of Derek’s infidelity, leads Ruby to rethink the wisdom of rearranging her life around Derek’s release, and the wisdom of waiting for him when he does not seem to be proactive in his own destiny. If only she could stop loving him so intensely.
Middle of Nowhere is a passionate, brilliantly photographed mediation on the all-encompassing nature of yearning. I see why this film won best director at Sundance. It takes a broad subject uncomfortably close to the African American community (the scores of women who have spouses and significant others under incarceration) and inverts it into a very personal, very interior story of one woman’s struggle with longing, loyalty and the impossible choice between old and new love. This film examines the other side of the coin in the phrase “what happens to a dream deferred?” What if the deferment is not of circumstance, but of choice?
Middle of Nowhere is a blessedly refreshing take on the round-the-way girl who is better than her circumstance and her decision to either accept them or struggle against them.