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Village Voice/L.A. Weekly Review of ‘Middle of Nowhere’

Getting Someplace: In Middle of Nowhere’s L.A., Real Life Flourishes

When Ruby (played by the stunning Emayatzy Corinealdi) tells the new man in her life she likes “indie” movies, it’s both a declaration of identity and a dare. The man, Brian (David Oyelowo), a bus driver who has politely but persistently pursued Ruby after driving her home from her overnight nursing shift at an L.A. hospital for months, translates “indie” as “movies where a brother’s got to read.” This is true of the film Ruby inevitably takes him to see, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, but in terms of barrier to entry for a man entering Fassbinder’s provocative interracial May-December romance unaware, subtitles are small potatoes.

Ruby’s choice of a date-night movie, though clearly meant as a test of Brian’s open-mindedness, is not really essential to the plot of Middle of Nowhere, which follows Ruby’s identity crisis amid the painful forced realization that her marriage to presumed soul mate Derek (Omari Hardwick) is not what she thought it was. But the movie date, and the conversation that sets it up, seems crucial to writer-director Ava DuVernay’s larger project.

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