I attended the world premier of 4 Minute Mile, directed by Charles-Olivier Michaud, at the Seattle International Film Festival. I chose to see the film, not only because it was filmed in Seattle, but also because the storyline sounded compelling. The film proved to be more than compelling; it was shocking, gritty, and suspenseful.
A 4 minute mile is difficult for a runner to achieve. Anything is difficult when you lost your father as a child, live in poverty, and have a brother who uses you for illegal drug runs. It’s understandable why high school runner Drew Jacobs (Kelly Blatz) has a chip on his shoulder, but he must overcome his anger if he wants to run the mile in under four minutes and receive a scholarship, and more importantly, escape the fate that has befallen his brother.
After being kicked off the track team for having a poor attitude, Drew seems to be spiraling downward, until his neighbor (Richard Jenkins), a former track coach who is struggling with his own demons, mentors him. The two form a special bond and fill a void in each other’s heart.
Excellent performances are given by Jenkins, Kim Basinger and Cam Gigandet, but the real surprise is newcomer Kelly Blatz. Virtually unknown, unlike the other actors who were up for the part, Blatz wowed director Michaud and the casting director, who decided to take a chance on him, after receiving a very raw, emotional post-screen-test email from Blatz, which brought them to tears. They made an excellent choice.
Although the running sequences didn’t make sense geographically to anyone familiar with the Seattle area, it was fun to see familiar sights such as Safeco Field, Garfield High School, and Fisherman’s Terminal.
According to the director, the film is a metaphor for how you should live your life: Commit yourself.
4 Minute Mile is available July 1 on iTunes and On Demand, and is in theaters August 1.