REVIEWS

Manohla Dargis, NEW YORK TIMES

"A soul-stirring drama… “Middle of Nowhere” carries the imprimatur of Sundance, but without the dreary stereotypes or self-satisfied politics that can at times characterize its offerings. The writer and director Ava DuVernay is after something exquisitely simple: she wants you to look, really look, at her characters. " Click to read full the article.

Kenneth Turan, LOS ANGELES TIMES

"To say that "Middle of Nowhere," winner of Sundance's  coveted directing award for writer-director Ava DuVernay, sheds long-overdue light on infrequently explored aspects of African American life is true as far as it goes - but it doesn't go far enough. For the truth is that it is uncommon to see serious adult dramas this moving and accomplished, so attuned to real people and their complex, recognizable emotions, no matter the racial makeup of the characters involved." Click to read full the article.

Sasha Stone, AWARDS DAILY

"Yet another delightful surprise has dropped in the lap of Oscar this year in Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere. You’ve probably never seen a film like this, I know I never have. DuVernay has crafted vibrant, original, flawed and interesting female characters who are trying to find their own way in life out from underneath the shadow of the men they’ve depended on. The magic in DuVernay’s writing and filmmaking is that it feels like you’re driving down a familiar road but every turn, every stop sign leads to something unexpected. To that end, Middle of Nowhere is revolutionary in its storytelling.  It is haunting, unexpected, deeply erotic at times and ultimately the kind of thing that only comes around once in a decade." Click to read the full article.

Karina Longworth, LA WEEKLY

"Like Ruby, DuVernay's film resists easy categorization. Formally, there's a powerful tension between aesthetics and content. Although the director demonstrates a gift for sultry, music-motivated montages, the meat of the movie lies in its daringly long dialogue scenes. The filmmaker's stolid, unblinking eye serves as a sharp contrast to Ruby's impatience to claim the life she has been fantasizing about. The film's naturalistic performances and austere, gray-violet palette misdirect from the fact that much of the material is psychological; the "real" is woven through with heightened flourishes to blur the line between actual and imagined truth. A slow-motion-enhanced kiss scene, with Corinealdi in top I-don't-give-a-fuck strut, is a startling example of DuVernay's ability to conjure drama that at once takes place in a character's head and in a recognizable real world. It's beautifully nuanced and confidently ambiguous—and so is the movie." Click to read the full article.

David Fear, TIMEOUT NEW YORK

"Those of us who head west to Sundance every year and still cling to old-school notions regarding independent cinema—that it can flourish as a forum for alternative viewpoints, that low production values and high-quality storytelling aren’t mutually exclusive, that independent isn’t just a label but also an ethos—often leave Park City experiencing a crisis of faith. But every so often, the festival midwifes a film that reminds us that a sense of discovery still exists on the margins of American moviemaking. Half Nelson, Compliance and Take Shelter are perfect examples; Ava DuVernay’s extraordinary chronicle of a marriage interrupted is another. There’s every reason to think that DuVernay’s tale of a woman trying desperately to stand by her incarcerated man might fall prey to the cloying earnestness and clunky clichés that infect too many Amerindie dramas. But this character study’s refusal to pander by sensationalizing its central social issue skirts such pitfalls with amazing grace; this is humanistic drama done right." Click to read the full article.

Elias Savada, FILM THREAT

"Corinealdi’s absorbing, emotionally-driven performance is just stunning in its simplicity, although all the actors deserve commendation for striking characterizations under DuVernay’s probing, straight-forward direction. There is hope among the broken souls populating the “Middle of Nowhere,” and a heartfelt thank you to Ava DuVernay and her cast and crew for sharing her gem with us. Painful and powerful in its simplicity, it’s a film worth watching more than once for its sheer emotional truths." Click to read the full article.

Jason Bailey, THE ATLANTIC

"DuVernay's direction is stylish but not distracting. She does some subtle, Soderbergh-ian intercutting of scenes to great effect, and adds in touches of magic realism in Ruby's moments alone, as she imagines her absent husband by her side or in her bed. As a storyteller, she has an interesting way of parsing out information without seeming to keep anything from us, and we trust her. Her command of tone is astonishing. The last beat with Derek, for instance, mixes heartbreak and eroticism in a way I've never seen onscreen." Click to read the full article.

 

PRESS ARCHIVE