Emayatzy Corinealdi spends a lot of time looking conflicted.
MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (Ava DuVernay). 99 minutes. Opens Friday (February 8). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
In Ava DuVernay's muted drama - which took the best-director prize at last year's Sundance Film Festival - a young woman named Ruby (newcomer Emayatzy Corinealdi) puts her life on hold while her husband (Omari Hardwick) serves a prison sentence for an initially unspecified crime.
But after four years - with her husband looking at the possibility of an early release - Ruby finds herself responding to the attentions of a charming bus driver (David Oyelowo).
DuVernay gets solid performances from all three of her leads - particularly Oyelowo (Red Tails, Jack Reacher), who puts his own spin on a generic role that seems tailored for Taye Diggs - but she smothers any drama by dragging out her paper-thin script at a snail's pace and filling the empty spaces with an intrusive soundtrack.
As good as those actors are, DuVernay can't quite get around the fact that she hasn't given them anything to do. Much of Middle Of Nowhere is spent just staring at Ruby as she stands around feeling conflicted.
It's an awfully mopey film, one that confuses stasis with depth; I'm not sure what the Sundance jury saw in it.