You pick up on a lot of hints when you watch enough movies. In a screening of The Blind Side, I grasped my armrest and held my breath when two characters were happily singing while driving. I know when that happens, an accident is right around the corner and, sure enough, there was.
I experienced déjà vu in Leif Tilden’s teen drama 1 Mile to You. The audience meets Kevin (Graham Rogers), the track team he runs for, his Coach (Tim Roth), and his girlfriend Ellie (Stefanie Scott) who also competes. Everyone is smiling and joking around, Kevin and Ellie flirt and cuddle, and I prepared for the worse. The team boards their bus, but Kevin is getting a ride with his parents. Unbeknownst to him, the bus pops a tire, fishtails, flies off a bridge and into the river below – killing everyone on board.
Grieving in sorrow, Kevin loses his passion for track and transfers to another school. He adapts well, but the school’s Coach K (Billy Crudup) can’t wait to enrol Kevin in athletics. Principal Umber (Peter Coyote) is quite eager too. Kevin, still overcoming the tragedy, is resistant, but shows signs of progress when he receives compassion from aspiring journalist Henny (Liana Liberato).
The film’s early climax is the only predictability found in the film. Because, as far as sport movies go, 1 Mile to You is a cut above the rest.
Director Leif Tilden (who portrayed Donatello in early Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle films, and Robbie Sinclair on Jim Henson’s Dinosaurs) could’ve aimed low to please his young audience in dependable ways. Instead, he offers a touching film about grief and recovery that still speaks fluently to a contemporary audience. Scenes featuring Kevin texting his fallen friends will surely hit heartstrings, while other moments that merge reality with the past will impress.
Graham Rogers leads the film with genuine emotion. He shares the screen well with Liberato’s coy kindness and Crudup’s charismatic channeling of executive producer Sam Rockwell.
Falling under the same crowd-pleasing umbrella as February’s Kiss and Cry, 1 Mile to You finds methods to surprise us in inspiring ways while also staying faithful to its modest roots.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie