January 4, 2013 -- This low-budget indie film about a woman struggling to hold her marriage together with her imprisoned husband tells the tale convincingly and well. This subject has probably been covered before in other films, but I don't remember seeing one in this depth before.
The title of this film refers to a person caught in the middle, between desires and aspirations, and the reality of where she finds herself (as well as the middle of her husband's long prison term). The beautiful Emayatzy Corinealdi stars as Ruby, the wife of a convicted felon, Derek (played by Omari Hardwick of “For Colored Girls”) who is in prison for eight years, but she is hoping he will get out in five years with good behavior.
As time goes by, Ruby finds out that Derek is not behaving well in prison. He is probably going to have to serve the full eight years. After four years of putting her life on hold and traveling four hours round trip to prison to visit her husband, Ruby is having second thoughts about continuing this for another four years. She dropped out of medical school to support her husband and paying for her husbands legal bills doesn't leave much left over for her.
Ruby begins to take a hard look at her marriage, both before and during her husband's prison stay. Some other things also come to light to make her decision to stay married even more difficult. She is also attracted to the bus driver on whose bus she rides to work. She works as a nurse in a hospital. The bus driver, Brian (David Oyelowo of “Jack Reacher”) makes it clear that he has deep feelings for her and wants to have a life together with her.
There are some other things going on which are not fully explained, child support payments for what appears to be a child Derek had with another woman, Gina (Maya Gilbert) possibly from a previous marriage. Derek's friend Rashad drops by Ruby's place with a big roll of cash, probably not gotten from legal work. There is a hint that Derek and Rashad were partners in crime. Ruby's mother Ruth (Lorraine Toussaint) and sister Rosie (Edwina Findley) don't get along with each other and Ruth feels that Ruby is wasting her life trying to hold on to her marriage. She may be right. There is also a powerful scene between Ruby and Derek's lawyer, Alberta Fraine (Sharon Lawrence of “The Perfect Family”).
The writer-director of this film, Ava DuVernay, has serious talent, but opportunities for female black directors are even more scarce in the film industry than they are for white women. If the film industry was a pure meritocracy I believe Ava DuVernay would be a leading light. This is a very effective and moving film, which is remarkable given the film's microscopic budget and 20-day shooting schedule. This film rates a B.
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