Love can sometimes be more dangerous than hate
Let me explain. The film unfolds in a non-linear fashion, jumping back and forth in the story, slowly revealing the why's and how's of Derek's spiral downward into madness as he tries to forge a tighter bond with his son. Through flashbacks, Derek's relationship with his ex-wife is explored, as is Derek's slow descent and the reasons for it. The non-linear progression builds true drama, as each scene builds on the previous, but due to the time shift, there's none of those momentum-halting conclusions, thus keeping the energy up along the way. The editing is bang-on, which, as anyone who has seen Memento could tell you, is the most important part of a non-linear movie. If the pieces don't go together, the puzzle doesn't work.
Mile Zero is a small film, with just three main characters. As Derek, Canadian acting veteran Michael Riley gets to deliver the kind of performance that actors dream of, ranging from the safe husband to the raving maniac, and everything in between. His physical transformation is rivaled by the change in his mental state, which is nuanced enough to bring the audience along with him, instead of stalling them with laughter. His son, played by 8-year-old Connor Widdows, is good, but not great, but thankfully good enough to pull off the role of foil to Derek's insanity. He has the wide-eyed innocence of childhood down, so it's completely believable that he would go along with his dad, and not see what is going on.
Though the story is mainly one of a father and son, the mother, Allison, played by Sabrina Grdevich, is key to tying the plot together, entirely in flashbacks. As the link between Derek and Will, Allison has to be both good and bad, protecting her child and hurting her ex. Similarly, Derek can be viewed as loving or dangerous. How their actions play out determines in large part how the viewer sees them. But don't think you're deciding how you feel. The film uses music, color and editing, along with a variety of visual techniques to manipulate the viewer. It's a masterful job by a true artist. The movie's not exactly "feel good" but it's more than enjoyable in terms of execution and as an exercise in non-traditional filmmaking. The biggest knock would have to be the ending, which is less than satisfying. But other than that, this film is solid.
The audio is available in 5.1 and 2.0, but the 5.1 track is definitely the way to go, as the beautiful guitar score is enveloping in surround sound, with the strings filling the surround speakers. There's not much going on in the dialogue or sound effects, but the music is so evocative and important to the tone of the movie, that having the 5.1 track is a huge difference for the film.
A set of deleted scenes feature more optional commentary by Currie and Eastwood, as they discuss why the segments were cut from the film. The four scenes really wouldn't have added much, but one with a hitchhiker picked up by Derek might have changed the feel of at least one part of the film. An alternate ending is included as well in this section, but it's just as open to interpretation as the real ending.
The rest of the extras come together like a "Make Your Own EPK" kit. You get everything you need to make a fluffy studio promo piece, including biographies, interviews with the stars and director, on-the-set behind-the-scenes footage and a photo gallery. Anyone curious about the making of this film or the people behind it should have their curiosity sated by this collection of extras.
Also found on this DVD are links to web sites related to the film, a discount DVD offer and the film's trailer, which is tense and appropriate for the film.
The Bottom Line