Film Review: Miles To Go: A Road Movie

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Director: Manoah Biesheuvel

It’s notoriously difficult to make a good Rave film. Films about dancing to EDM are like films about performance art in that they can’t replicate the sense of being there. Rave films can’t quite relay the euphoria, the sweat, and the beats and so German DJs Andhim have made a road movie instead. At only 48 minutes long, it may be the shortest road movie you’ve ever watched.

The film that gets closest to reproducing the club scene is Eden (2014) directed by Mia Hansen-Løve, which follows the aimless life of Paris DJ Paul, charting the rise and fall of his career. Underneath the excitement of the music, is the tug of melancholia in the mornings-after, and in the come-downs. Manoah Biesheuvel’s short documentary also seeks to show that a DJ’s life is perhaps not the glamorous and heady job that it’s made out to be.

Andhim – Simon Haehnel and Tobi Müller – decide that they will play the West Coast of America, from San Diego to Vancouver, driving to each gig in a rented campervan. It’s a distance of 2,000 miles but the duo along with Biesheuvel, and tour managers Griffin and Josh, aim to do it in 10 days, with six shows along the way. A romantic way to travel America turns out to be a gruelling slog for the five guys.

However, they are full of beans at the start, meeting friends in California, seeing the sights, eating the local cuisine – cow brain tacos, anyone? The club scenes are surprisingly short, and the music we hear is not live from the venue, but Andhim’s own music placed on top, distancing the viewer from the party. But this is a road movie, and instead of listening to the music, we learn more about the DJs, friends since childhood.

Simon claims he is the life of the party, but in this film we are more likely to see him complaining of tiredness from travelling, from performing, and from the late nights. Unfortunately, we only see the barest glimpses of the after-parties that take their toll on the DJs. Tobi is more reserved and seems happy enough playing computer games as they try to relax before the next show. Soon with miles to go, the film and the landscape flash by in a blur.

By the time they play to an empty club in Seattle, it seems that everyone, including, Biesheuvel can’t wait for the trip to be over. The last part of the film seems rushed, and while that may be Biesheuvel capturing how the end of the journey felt to him, the finish, a few shots of a bright Vancouver, is anticlimactic. The uplifting track never appears, and the promised exhilaration is forever postponed.

But it’s a worthwhile journey and it is brilliantly shot with real sense of movement coupled with the stuffy claustrophobia of the campervan. And if it’s music you want, there are plenty of sets on their YouTube channel – and they are truly worth checking out – , including one from Big Sur, created on this very trip. With the emphasis on the men rather than their music, the film could end up becoming a companion piece to Eden. There’s a sadness after the beat drops.

Available to watch here

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Last night two DJs saved my life

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