Before Kino Lorber announced they were releasing Miracle Mile on Blu-ray I had never even heard of the film, much less seen it. The other night when I got around to popping the movie in and hitting play, I did so with no expectations. What happened in the next 88 minutes blew me away. Maybe it was because of my lack of expectations, or maybe it wasn’t. Whatever the reason, I can’t stop thinking about Miracle Mile.
Director Steve De Jarnatt’s second and shockingly last feature film opens up in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Harry, played wonderfully by a young Anthony Edwards, spots Julie (Mare Winningham) and the two are immediately drawn to one another. They never speak but they constantly lock eyes and flirt as they make their way throughout the museum in an opening credits montage. As the two exit through the gift shop, Harry blows his chance and fails to introduce himself. Dejected, Harry heads to the La Brea Tar Pits and begins to wallow in his disappointment. After a brief moment and much to the surprise of Harry, Julie appears and introduces herself. The two spend the rest of the day together until it’s time for Julie to go to work.
Miracle Mile begins with all the makings of a romantic comedy. Two hip, young people meet and connect instantly, spending a wonderful day together. Then the movie takes a turn. Harry has plans to meet Julie at the diner where she works but he shows up late, after Julie has already gone home. Harry attempts to give her a call on a pay phone but has no luck. Then the pay phone rings back. After a moment of brief hesitation, Harry answers the phone. The person on the other line is very frantic and is calling with a warning. He says a nuclear bomb will be going off within the hour and in 70 minutes it will hit and wipe out LA.
This is when Miracle Mile looks to be taking a shift from a rom-com to more of a screwball comedy. At this point I expected the film to take serious subject matter and play with it in a bit of a light hearted, over-the-top fashion. It does go down this path for a little bit. Harry warns those in the diner of the impending doom and they all begin to load a random array of supplies into a truck. The idea is to get out of town before mass panic ensues. There are some laughs in this scene, particularly when two of the folks in the truck begin to take down a list of the names of important people that they want to make sure survive and help lead the new, post-apocalypse world. One girl suggests Pat Riley.
Harry decides he can’t leave the city without Julie and jumps out of the truck in an attempt to find her. As Harry makes his way through Los Angeles more and more people become aware of what awaits them. This is when the film makes takes a final shift and begins to head down a dark and grim road. The outlook becomes increasingly bleak and yet Harry will not give up. He’s determined to find Julie and get her out of the city.
Miracle Mile somehow manages to be one of the darkest films I’ve ever seen dealing with an all out nuclear war, while at the same time being incredibly sweet and romantic. Harry is a good guy looking for the perfect girl. He finally finds her and he will not let the end of the world stop him from being with her. Despite barely knowing her, he goes through hell to find her. He jumps off a moving truck, steals a car, gets chased by cops and that’s just the beginning of what he’s willing to do.
Essentially Miracle Mile is this sweet, blossoming romance that happens to take place just before a nuclear apocalypse. It’s never sappy or cheesy or anything like that. Whether it’s the romantic aspect or people trying to deal with facing doom, everything feels very real. In fact I’d argue that Miracle Mile may offer up the best depiction of mass panic that I’ve ever seen in a movie. When the entire city becomes aware of what they’re facing, the results are pretty horrific. And still, through it all, Harry and Julie find one another.
If you’re like me and you somehow managed to miss Miracle Mile all these years, do yourself a favor and see it. This really is a fantastic movie and the Blu-ray release from Kino Lorber looks great. I’m no expert when it comes to transfers, but I know what looks good to me and Miracle Mile certainly looks good. Cinematographer Theo van de Sande certainly took full advantage of the great late 80’s Los Angeles locations available to him and they look gorgeous on this release. The image looks crisp and clear and maintains that wonderful film quality. The release also comes with some nice special features, including two audio commentaries.
Miracle Mile is now available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.