Miracle Mile

Director: Steve De Jarnatt
Screenwriters: Steve De Jarnatt

Institute History

  • 1989 Sundance Film Festival


Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl . . . and they’re blown all to hell. Miracle Mile is a very untraditional romance: love on the eve of the nuclear holocaust. Harry (Anthony Edwards), a shy jazz musician, oversleeps and misses a late-night rendezvous with his new squeeze, Julie (Mare Winningham). At a pay phone outside the diner she’s left hours before, he answers a misdirected phone call from a freaked-out missle-silo operator, screaming in full-tilt panic—he thinks he’s reached his father—that the buttons have been pushed, it’s no drill and Los Angeles is fated for destruction. Subsequent events confirm that the call is not a ruse, and Harry begins an all-night quest to find Julie and somehow escape the impending disaster.

From this point on, writer/director de Jarnatt is amazingly able to keep control of his film while its world and characters unravel in mass hysteria. The film has a bizarre rationality, galloping ahead with crazed no-time-to-think intensity. In a particularly climatic scene, all Wilshire Boulevard along the so-called Miracle Mile appears as one massive gridlock of flaming cars and flailing bodies. De Jarnatt could easily have copped out on his ending, and had the lovers awakening as if it were all a bad dream. The lovers do reunite, but their ending isn’t the traditional happy one. Miracle Mile is, finally a heroic film, possessing the courage and conviction to take its premise to a logical—to the extent that nuclear war is logical—conclusion.

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

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