A Million Miles Away is the inspiring true story of Astronaut Jose Hernandez and his journey from working in the fields as a child to soaring high above the atmosphere. A young migrant worker who would spend his life dreaming of life in the stars, Hernandez worked tirelessly for decades to reach those stars while balancing a life with his wonderful family. Influenced by his parents and the strength they showed while working to provide his family with a life and future, Jose takes on the world to prove he has what it takes and that people like him can accomplish wonders.
Jose Hernandez was raised in Southern California as the son of migrant parents who worked up and down the farms and vineyards picking fruit most of the year. It wasn’t until the age of 12 that Jose learned to speak English and his education came to a crossroads when working in the fields proved to be detrimental to his scholastic focus. Hernandez always dreamed of becoming an Astronaut and over the course of nearly 30 years he worked hard to realize that dream and to learn as much as he could each year. With the incredible support of his family who made unbelievable sacrifices for him to reach his goal, Jose defies the odds and eventually earns a place with NASA and out in the stars!
Michael Pena, a man who seemingly doesn’t age, does a tremendous job bringing Hernandez and his sensational story to the silver screen. Balancing great emotion with more shy scientific sensibilities, Pena’s Hernandez makes it impossible not to root for him and his many failures only grow the investment you feel in his journey. Becoming an Astronaut is nearly impossible and the achievements we witness both in Jose’s work and personal life are even more stunning considering all that they were taking on. There was someone cutting onions in the theater because my eyes were constantly misty in the best of ways, because I felt such an overwhelming happiness for this person and this family that worked so hard to accomplish wonders.
Rosa Salazar plays Adela, Jose’s wife, and she’s undeniably the anchor of this film and the great motivator for Jose to realize his potential. With FIVE children in the mix and a husband who’s committed to NASA, Adela kept things in order as best she could at home while also supporting her husband emotionally. Salazar and Pena have such a natural and enjoyable chemistry that really solidifies the bond they possess as husband and wife and it’s incredibly admirable what they were both able to accomplish as a family unit. Watching them tackle the lows and rejoice in the highs of their lives is a beautiful thing and the performances are such a testament to the couple in real life.
A Million Miles Away is far more than a feel-good film and offers up more than just a look at what sacrifice can bring you. There’s something to be said about having goals and continually working towards them, as it feels less common in today’s world that we feel we can achieve the impossible. To believe in yourself is a powerful thing that’s only made stronger by the belief of the people around you and this film clearly shows just how important your family and your friends really are to your individual journey. Jose Hernandez is a shining example of someone who’s seen and lived so many sides of life and uses that to try to create a better world for everyone in it. I absolutely loved this film, and it truly surprised me as one of 2023’s greater film offerings!
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