Sunday, September 24, 2023

A Million Miles Away - Movie Review

The Movie: A Million Miles Away

The Director: Alejandra Márquez Abella

The Cast: Michael Peña, Rosa Salazar, Bobby Soto, Sarayu Blue, Veronica Falcón, Julio César Cedillo, Garret Dillahunt, Eric Johnson, Michelle Krusiec

The Story: A biopic about José M. Hernández and his path from a farm worker to becoming an engineer and an astronaut. A tale of perseverance, community and sacrifice to accomplish a seemingly impossible dream.

The Review:
Wrap me up in a tortilla, cover me with cotija, and dip me in salsa, this movie was so much better than I was hoping for and my Mexican heritage is extremely thankful that it exists. Everything about this movie is just so well made and filled with so much authenticy, it made me proud that there are Latinos out there like director Alejandra Márquez Abella leading the way, and so many more all the way up and down the list of credits, getting the opportunity to make a movie like this.

The story is sort of a combination of La Bamba and Hidden Figures and tells the real life story of migrant farm worker (something my dad did growing up) José Hernández who became an honest to goodness NASA astronaut. It's the story of someone beating the odds and living out a dream that wasn't just kind of like reaching for the stars, it was literally reaching for the stars. Hernández, through a great performance by Michael Peña, shows us what possibility looks like when it's turned into reality and the story is told with just the right amount of heart and emotion without ever feeling heavy handed or preachy.

Aside from Peña, who seemed like he was made for this role even as he's played so many different characters over the years, I absolutely fell in love with Rosa Salazar as José's wife Adela. Watching the two characters fall in love was just some classic Hollywood magic on display and then watching Salazar carry some of the heavy lifting during the film's more dramatic moments was just so good.

I also have to mention how great it was to see the one and only Michelle Krusiec, who I'll always remember from Alice Wu's Saving Face alongside Lynn Chen and the iconic legend Joan Chen. The movie is a groundbreaking milestone when it comes to representation for Asian filmmakers and the LGBTQ+ community. In this movie, she plays José's teacher and manages to deliver one of the most emotionally impactful moments of the entire movie.

Is this a perfect movie or one that will rake in awards when that time approaches? Probably not, I think it's played a little safe at times and the filmmakers keep things on a very steadily happy course, which is good but also probably keeps it from standing out in a sea of content especially having its release primarily on a streaming platform. I really hope I'm wrong and the movie gets a bigger chance at success but either way, it's a movie I enjoyed thoroughly and will most likely watch again at some point.

The Verdict:
A Million Miles Away is a revelation in its inspiration and a prositive reenforcement for representation both in life and in the art of filmmaking. If this isn't one of my favorite movies of the year it will at least be my feel good movie of the year. Highly recommended for anyone to watch.

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