Out of all the stories and characters in Miles, writer/director Nathan Adloff picks the weakest ones to carry his semi-autobiographical indie.
Tim Boardman (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) plays openly gay high school senior Miles, a teen anxious to leave his hometown and begin his adult life. When he isn’t anticipating his escape to Chicago to pursue film school dreams, he IMs other gay men on an AOL-type service, works at a local projector-based movie theatre, and listens to tunes on his discman. Did I mention the film takes place in 1999?
Miles’ initial Chi-Town plans fall through, forcing the upcoming graduate to think of alternate ways to carry out his post-secondary career. A volleyball scholarship catches Miles’ attention, but his high school only offers a girls team. Persistent, Miles impresses the team’s coach (Missi Pyle) and earns a spot on the roster – erupting controversy across his old-fashioned community.
Boardman is fairly ordinary as Miles, but he earns credibility as a performer through emotional exchanges. Despite being inspired by a true story, the problem with this main thread of inequality is that it feels undercooked and transparent. The screenplay, as well as the actors, are simply going through the motions of underdog conventions. Other than its guided message of how unfair Miles’ situation is, its conviction is missing and the conclusion has unsatisfying loose ends. Even the volleyball matches are boring.
Filmmaker Adloff should’ve directed all of the film’s focus on Miles’ mother (Inside Out MVP Molly Shannon) and her attempts to distance herself from a one-sided relationship with a loveless man (Stephen Root). The film requires Shannon to take part in a couple of needless gags (posing as Miles to chat with an online hunk, public urination as revenge), but her subplot romance with a grieving Paul Reiser is really sweet.
Catch Miles at Toronto’s Inside Out LGBT Film Festival on:
Saturday, June 4 at 4:45 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox
Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie