Not too long ago I did a post asking you all to go out and support Ava DuVernay’s new film Middle of Nowhere. I got a chance to see it yesterday and loved it! But instead of giving my two cents about the flick I have asked fellow creative spirit Keith Purvis, a respected Chicago writer/direct/producer, to be a Marti Ink guest blogger and give his opinion on the movie. So without further delay, I give you Mr. Purvis!
Ava DuVernay is everywhere. The director of the new film, Middle of Nowhere has been on NPR, on CNN, on Tavis Smiley, the New York Times, even being tweeted about by Oprah. You would think she directed a major blockbuster film.
The film she wrote and directed is major but it won’t do blockbuster numbers. Slower paced, independently made adult dramas starring black people usually don’t make billions. But the movie Middle of Nowhere is just as exciting (or more so) as the last Avengers for a number of reasons.
Middle of Nowhere, Duvernay’s second feature film, stars newcomer Emayatzy E. Corinealdi as Ruby, a medical student who has voluntarily suspended her life to wait for her husband, Omari Hardwick, who is incarcerated on an eight-year prison sentence. Ruby isn’t built for this. She is no stereotype. She’s an empathetic, realistically portrayed woman trying to deal with a strange and foreign situation. Between the challenges of her family, her husband and the enticing new guy in her life played by David Oyelowo, Ruby has to find her way through this situation and in the process find herself.
After reading the description of this movie, you would figure you know what to expect. A depressing movie. A movie that screams a message at you. A film bashing black men…again! And this is why this movie is major.
DuVernay avoids all of that. She’s decided in this age of blockbusters and push button emotional entertainment, to do something radical in hindsight. She let her characters tell their story truthfully. Within 20 minutes the movie feels so real it is like you are right there by Ruby’s side as she takes the long ride to her husband’s prison. Instead of doom and gloom you cheer as she meets her challenges head on.
Emayatzy is wonderful as Ruby, but so is everyone else in their roles. Most surprising is Ruby’s mother Ruth played by Lorraine Toussaint. There’s no long explanation of their history together; just expertly directed interactions between them that say everything without spelling it out.
The film is beautifully shot. The music is excellent (I need that soundtrack like now). The acting is superb. But is the movie good you ask? Middle of Nowhere is one of the best movies of the year, hands down.
So what is all the fuss about? Why all the press? Because not only did DuVernay write and direct this expertly made film, but she made it with her own money. Spending a decade as a major publicist for Hollywood films, she branched out as a director with her own money. Because her films were primarily about black people in adult situations, doors were slammed in her face. So, as DuVernay has said numerous times in numerous ways, she built her own door. AFFRM, The African American Film Festival Releasing Movement, is her very own distribution company. There was a void for the black, independent films she wanted to make and she believed in her audience enough to ‘bet on black’ and try to fill it.
Her bet landed her right in the middle of greatness.
For movie ticket information check your local listings or go to http://www.affrm.com.
Keith Purvis is the founder of Junction Group Films, Inc., a film production company specializing in feature, short, documentary and commercial productions. To find out more about Purvis visit his website and his blog.
Photos: Movie/DuVernay pics: imbd.com; Keith Purvis: Santa Leal