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Middle of Nowhere


Dorian Spitz (Anton Yelchin) is trying to find out where he belongs and what path he wants to take. Grace Berry (Eva Amurri) is simply trying to make ends meet to get on the path she wants. During one summer working at a water park in Middle of Nowhere, they decide to work together and sell pot to make a little extra money.

Grade:

Grace is a hardened nineteen year old burdened by thousands of dollars of debt due to her mother’s (Susan Sarandon) insatiable urge to be irresponsible. Therefore she needs this money to achieve her goal of going to college, and eventually medical school. Raised by a wealthy family with whom he has no desire to interact, Dorian is sent to live with his uncle. Along the way, we learn about why they’ve developed such quirky and determined personalities. Grace’s younger sister, Taylor Elizabeth (Willa Holland) becomes involved as her own way of avoiding the modeling school that is being forced upon her to fulfill her mother’s wishes. Grace and Taylor develop their own relationships with Dorian that ultimately change their interaction with each other and their mother.

Yelchin channels his eccentric role of Charlie Bartlett to convey how Dorian deals with his alienation from his family. He delivers a solid performance, but at times fails to adequately communicate Dorian’s complex emotions (one scene at a game of Bingo in particular). His chemistry with Amurri is evident once Grace and Dorian begin interacting regularly. Meanwhile, Amurri and real-life mother, Sarandon, work well with each other as two strong female characters butting heads. Amurri is able to hold her own once Grace decides to relinquish her tough exterior. The rest of the cast successfully does their part in support, especially Holland and Justin Chatwin.

The scenery is intriguing due to the small town setting, whether it is the backwoods or the mansion where love-interest Ben Pretzler (Chatwin) is staying. As odd as it sounds, the soundtrack is subtle but very effective at sustaining the overall light-hearted vibe with soft, somber undertones. While it may be the movie’s selling point, pot and drugs take a backseat to the personal struggles the kids face. It takes a while for the characters to develop and is a little hard to follow exactly what is causing the newest bout of angst, but entertaining and absorbing throughout.

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