Thursday, September 14, 2023

A story that takes flight -- in space

A Million Miles Away, the story of a migrant kid who dreams of  becoming an astronaut, touches nearly every base that normally turns me off. It can be simplistic and unabashedly inspirational. But director Alejandra Marquez Abella infuses her film with so much sincerity, it's difficult to resist. Michael Pena stars as real life astronaut Jose Hernandez. Hernandez's story serves as a tale about a persistent kid who works hard to realize his dream and as a celebration of hard scrapple ethnicity. Hernandez's background gives the story its flavor, turning the movie into a triumph not only for an extraordinarily determined young man but for people, who like him, haven't typically been associated with the space program. Once Hernandez becomes an  engineer, he and his wife Adela (Rosa Salazar) raise five children. Although he's successful,  Hernandez clings to his goal: He keeps applying to NASA. After 12 rejections, he's accepted into a NASA training program, and we see some of its challenges, learning to function under extreme pressure, for example. A Million Miles Away isn't deeply nuanced, but it clearly charts a life that went from a village in Michoacan, Mexico, to farm work near Stockton, Ca. to college. Hernandez eventually landed a job with a government-funded firm dealing with security issues. NASA awaits. It's quite a journey and A Million Miles Away, based on a memoir Hernandez wrote, does everything it can to honor it. 

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