By José Sarmiento Hinojosa
If “a coming-of-age musical featuring Ohio teen girls singing a Judas Priest song a Capella” isn’t enough to draw you to this bizarre experience created by american filmmaker Jennifer Reeder, then few things can. A Million Miles Away shouldn’t just be appreciated just for its lovely quirkiness (although this is an undeniable quality of the film) but for its insightful look to this universe of role reversal that happens in the middle of a song. Emotional struggle, and coming of age issues intertwine when a replacement choir teacher in verge of a fallout, has a moment of enlightenment when the choir girls, in a tense and sublimely filmed moment, start singing a life affirming song (or well, the Judas Priest tune) which ends in a complete change of roles.
“A supernatural version of coming of age” would be indeed the proper title for this Jennifer Reeder film, which short has already been nominated for a Tiger Award for short films at Rotterdam. Seemingly innocuous things happen here, like the several 80’s references that Reeder so meticulously works in, and the symbols and codes here and there (the text message, the cat’s gaze, the sunglasses, etc.) This elements recreate a sense of tenderness and quiet tension that quietly builds up the atmosphere of the film, which ends unexpectedly with a girl punk song cover.
A delicate rarity of a film, A Million Miles Away hits target where other films fail miserably: talking about adolescence traumas, romantic tragedies and such topics, require a fresh approach to those subjects and a narrative pulse that keeps the viewer interested. And in all these trades, Reeds comes out a winner.
Director: Jennifer Reeder
Producer: Steven Hudosh
Cinematography: Christopher Rejano
Editing: Mike Olenick
Cast: Grace Etzkorn, Jennifer Estlin, Amaya Lorick, Kasey Busiel