“Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.” - Charles Kettering
I think an important part of growing as a human being is owning who you are as a person, the good, the bad and the ugly. In that spirit I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to at least some extent that I am a cynic, a pessimist. I tend to see the glass as half empty. While it’s nice being optimistic I don’t think anyone can really blame me for thinking otherwise considering the wonderful world we’re enduring these days. Thankfully not everyone thinks like me because if they did our world as we know it would come to a screeching halt. Luckily people like José Hernandez exist who somehow despite everything he’s seen and experienced, still believes in a little bit of magic.
Because of my tendency to lean more toward the despondent, my movie preferences can often mirror my attitude, especially when it comes to the world at large. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean the movies I like are always a downer but they often can be of a more violent nature. They can often feature the hero losing and the villain escaping. I’m very much interested in the anti-hero with movies like Taxi Driver, Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction or television series like Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad. I like characters that are morally ambiguous who often find themselves forced to delve into the deep end of the morally bankrupt. As entertaining as these kinds of stories can be, sometimes you need the palate cleanser. For the sake of my soul and sanity it’s nice to see the other side of things, the more positive, the inspiring, the love that people are capable of showing. A little not so secret-secret, About Time is what one might call a major guilty pleasure of mine.
A Million Miles Away is an absolute inspiration. It is one of my favorite feel-good films of the last few years. Among all the muck and macabre that I like to watch, it is the light in the darkness. It’s the sorbet cleanser that I so desperately need in hopes of not becoming the most insufferable person in any room. The story of A Million Miles Away is one of a true life superhero who in the words of one of his greatest teachers, uses perseverance as a superpower.
José Hernandez is a man some might accuse of being a dreamer. A seemingly dirtier and dirtier word the older a person gets. But if more were like him this world might be something so much better and so much further along in human progression. From a very young age José had his sights set on the heavens above. Rather than hoping for the best, he truly believed he was destined to be an astronaut. This he held close to his heart despite being the immigrant son, one of four children, of a migrant farmer. With his hands in the dirt he dreamed of the impossible and when he became old enough to pursue it he left his farming life behind. Throughout his journey he found love, family and tragedy. He found obstacles at nearly every turn but through his own determination and the unwavering support of his wife he continued on.
According to the real José the average NASA candidate is rejected no more than two times before they are accepted; he was denied eleven times. Each denial letter he read was the process of a thousand little cuts that would attempt to kill him. Still he pressed on until he triumphed and became the ultimate inspirational story about never giving up and never giving in. He is living proof that the dream is worth the journey. It is worth the experience of repeated failure and anyone who says failure isn’t a part of everyone’s story is lying to you.
Michael Peña is someone I’d place in the underrated actor category. His eclectic filmography covers everything from the dramatic to the comedic and beyond. With films like Crash and End of Watch he has demonstrated his ability to hold his own among some of Hollyweird’s best. In Ant-Man he often steals every scene he’s in, being the funniest one in the room. And that’s a room featuring the likes of Paul Rudd.
He has a tenacity about him that he has showcased as interchangeable with his talents as someone of immense patience and a delicate touch. In A Million Miles Away he plays José and his time on screen is always touching. He manages a beautiful balance of a man constantly at war with himself trying to push forward despite everything screaming at him to turn back. He is gentle without ever being a pushover and his portrayal of this real, authentic hero is nothing short of mesmerizing. Matching his stellar performance is Rosa Salazar as Adela, José’s supportive and tenacious wife and ultimate support system. Her greatest strength is the ability to be the support her husband so desperately needs as well as a source of inspiration for him as she reaches for her own dreams, even if those dreams are a little closer to home than his. Rosa portrays this great source of strength with complete conviction and a loving, guiding hand for everyone around her. She is such a perfect counterpart to Peña’s portrayal of José.
If you want to be inspired, watch A Million Miles Away. If you want even just a sliver of hope about this often horrendous world of ours, watch A Million Miles Away. It will have you cheering for these characters and if anything will simply leave you happier than it found you. I think that alone is worth the time. If you tend to find yourself sifting through the darker side of storytelling like I often do, A Million Miles Away will undoubtedly shine through.
Rated PG For: thematic elements and language
Runtime: 121 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Drama, Biography
Starring: Michael Peña, Rosa Salazar, Garret Dillahunt, Bobby Soto
Directed By: Alejandra Márquez Abella
Out of 10
Story: 10/ Acting: 9/ Directing: 8/ Visuals: 8.5
Buy to Own: Now streaming on Prime.
Check out the trailer below: