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  Miracle Mile We Have All The Time In The World
Year: 1988
Director: Steve De Jarnatt
Stars: Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, John Agar, Lou Hancock, Mykelti Williamson, Kelly Jo Minter, Kurt Fuller, Denise Crosby, Robert DoQui, O-Lan Jones, Claude Earl Jones, Alan Rosenberg, Danny De La Paz, Earl Boen, Diane Delano, Brian Thompson
Genre: Thriller, Science Fiction, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 3 votes)
Review: It took millions of years for mankind to evolve, and thousands for civilisation to rise, but it took thirty years for Harry Washello (Anthony Edwards) to find the right woman. It happened when he was in Los Angeles, taking a break from his jazz band by investigating the museum, when she caught his eye. At first he thought he'd blown his chances and let her slip through his fingers, but then she approached him and they got to chatting, and something between them clicked. She was Julie (Mare Winningham), a waitress, and although they were enjoying each other's company she had to work tonight, so how about they meet at the diner around midnight?

Miracle Mile begins as a modest but sweet romantic comedy and ends up as a nightmare of global proportions where you're not entirely sure what is really happening until the final five minutes. It was directed and written by Steve De Jarnatt, who on this evidence could have been a filmmaker of note, if he hadn't gone straight into television after this came out, not having made enough ripples in the pond of movie success to offer him the career he deserved. However, a handful of people caught this in the cinema, and more caught it on video, and the film's reputation grew.

It's still nothing more than a cult item, yet mention it to the right person and they will tell you it's a true gem, and seriously underrated never mind underseen. Although it came fairly late in the cycle, as the Cold War was about to wind down, this was one of those eighties films that fretted over the possibility of nuclear war, but for quite a lot of the time looks to be admonishing the public for living life under this fear of something that probably won't happen anyway. What happens is that Harry sleeps late after a power cut, and when he arrives at Julie's place of work she has long gone.

Not willing to give up on what might be Miss Right, Harry asks the waitress for her number, and even though it's four o'clock in the morning, he plans to call her in the telephone box outside. However, when he goes over to it, it is ringing and he naturally picks up the receiver: it is here where the whole tone of the film, previously light and goodnatured, turns sinister. This is because the man on the line claims to be from a missile silo in North Dakota, and also tells Harry, mistakenly believing him to be his father, that total nuclear annihilation is on its way. The call ends with the sounds of gunfire and another man tells Harry to forget everything and go back to sleep.

It's a great premise, especially as you don't know whether it's a prank or for real, and Edwards gives one of his best performances perfectly pitching the nice guy persona as one which goes loopy under pressure. We still believe in Harry, we just aren't convinced he's going about things the right way, but as the diner patrons seem convinced and head off to the airport to get the hell out of there, Harry fixates on Julie. He has to save her, as she is the best thing that has happened to him in ages, so the film is as much about the fear of missing your great romantic opportunity as it is the worry of the end of the world as we know it. Miracle Mile is one of those films where it helps not to be too aware of the plot before you watch it, but even if you are, you can appreciate its heartfelt concern for the human race, especially if we're going the way of the dinosaurs. Music by Tangerine Dream.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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