4 Minute Mile
dir Charles-Olivier Michaud
scr Josh Campbell, Jeff Van Wie
prd Howard Burd, Micah Sparks, Deborah Moore, Mark DiSalle, Jennifer Reibman
with Kelly Blatz, Richard Jenkins, Kim Basinger, Analeigh Tipton, Cam Gigandet, Rhys Coiro, Aaron Washington, Aaron Kennedy, Gerald Grissette, David Brown-King, Daniel Oliver, Dylan Arnold
release US 1.Aug.14
14/US 1h36
4 Minute Mile
Run boy run: Jenkins and Blatz

basinger tipton gigandet
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
4 Minute Mile A warm and introspective tone lifts this rather standard overcoming-obstacles drama into something surprisingly moving. Sensitive direction and striking central performances from veteran Jenkins and newcomer Blatz also help add the resonant emotions. So even if the film feels slight, it's worth a look.

At 18, Drew (Blatz) is thrown off his high school track team due to his hot temper. Meanwhile at home, his widowed mother (Basinger) has bene worn down by life, and his ex-con brother Wes (Gigandet) is dragging him into a life of crime. But wheezy has-been coach Coleman (Jenkins) spots some talent in Drew and takes him on as a private project, putting him through the paces to both develop his natural skill and build his character. And this new discipline is making him even more attractive to fellow runner Lisa (Tipton).

Although it's nicely shot and thoughtfully directed, this often feels like a cautionary/inspirational TV movie set-up like a more grown-up version of The Karate Kid (which gets a witty reference). But there are surprises lurking amid the formula, and the characters have a remarkable authenticity. Their struggles may seem rather corny, but they face them with genuine grit. So the actors earn the audience's sympathy. Even Tipton and Basinger add spark to their thinly developed roles.

In a star-making performance, the charismatic Blatz holds his own, even in scenes with powerhouse actors like Basinger and Jenkins. He offers a striking portrayal of a smart teen whose stubbornness is jeopardising his only shot at a future. Jenkins is particularly good in a role that could easily have been a cliche (the former legend who lost it all after his son's untimely death in a car crash), but he stirs in both dark honesty and sardonic humour.

This is a film about the nagging urge to give up when dreams seem out of reach. The hardest thing for Drew isn't learning how to run, it's learning how to accept advice and develop a proper relationship with anyone, either a mentor, a family member or a girlfriend. So even if the film is essentially predictable, the journey is thoroughly involving. And the interaction between Drew and Coleman is so nicely played that it brings out other themes far beyond the demands of the story.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 1.Aug.14

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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall