Review: A Million Miles Away
A Million Miles Away – 50%
Reviewer Flickchart ranking: 2,587/5,199
A Million Miles Away, Amazon’s newest release, is the true story of how José Hernández (Michael Peña) went from migrant farm worker to NASA astronaut. Alejandra Márquez Abella’s film follows Hernández from a young boy to his voyage into space. While the conventional biopic plot structure hardly ascends into the cinematic heavens, A Million Miles Away is a heartwarming success.
Abella highlights key childhood memories, focusing on José’s life in the fields, his relationship with his father (Julio Cedillo), and a supportive early teacher (Michelle Krusiec). A montage later and we see José graduate college and begin his first professional engineering job. As dictated in biopic law, José has a meet cute with a woman (Rosa Salazar), and we briefly pause our pursuit of the final frontier for an endearing romantic interlude.
Abella’s directorial decisions involve several montage sequences as she attempts to capture an emotional resonance over dialogue-heavy plot machinations. While the movie is always comfortable and safe, Peña and Salazar’s characters are easy to empathize with, and their smiles and tears always feel real. The camera work is elevated above typical straight-to-streaming family films, Abella gives us a crisp film with an imaginative visual life… except for the insidious inclusion of a lens flare (may JJ Abrams be cursed forever).
A Million Miles Away lacks tension and relational depth, as the film is always impatient to keep the narrative moving forward. Themes of the importance of family, a supportive community, and how they can help an individual create a powerful sense of purpose paired with quiet and captivating lead performances weave together a winning family-movie-night effort about an inspiring journey into space.