It\'s 1990 and an Indonesian fishing boat abandons a dozen Iraqi and Cambodian refugees on a remote Western Australian beach, promising them that a bus over the sandhills will soon come and take them to Perth. When the fishing boat sinks on its way home, the two people smugglers also end up in the empty outback. Most of the men are quickly caught, except for two of the asylum seekers and one of the fishermen. The three, Arun (Kenneth Moraleda), Youssif (Rodney Afif) and the fisherman Ramelan (Srisacd Sacdpraseuth), with nothing in common but their misfortune and determination, escape arrest and begin an epic journey through the deserted landscape. Laconically pursued by an army reservist unit, they bicker amongst themselves as they try to find a big town - like Broome or Perth - without the slightest idea of the distances involved.
 

4
It’s an inherently cinematic experience focused on comedy and adventure.

It was here at Botany Bay 237 years ago that James Cook came ashore to claim Australia for the British Empire.

Since then, our nation has been populated by successive waves of boat people.

That’s what Lucky Miles is about – who comes here and who gets to stay.

But what makes this film so interesting is that - above anything else – it’s a comedy about what is usually a charged issue.

As a colleague of mine so aptly put it, Lucky Miles tickles issues as it tackles them.

The film is set in 1990 on the remote coastline of north-western Australia.

It begins with an Indonesian people smuggler putting ashore two groups of refugees -- one from Iraq, the other from Cambodia.

The men are told the highway to Perth is just on the other side of the sand dunes.

In reality, they’re stranded hundreds of miles from anywhere in one of the most unforgiving landscapes on Earth.

The men divide along ethnic lines and head off in opposite directions.

In the first few days ashore, only one man from either group evades capture.

Arun, from Cambodia, wants to find his father, who lives in Perth.

Youssif, from Iraq, wants political asylum, having seen his family murdered by Saddam Hussein’s regime.

These men collide in the desert and are soon joined by Ramelan, a crew member from the Indonesian boat, which hasn’t made it out of Australian waters.

While these men’s harsh backgrounds have made them very resourceful, we know they can’t last long in the outback.

Their best chance for survival actually lies with being found by Aboriginal Army reservists – who they’re trying to avoid.

Though based on a collection of true stories, Michael James Rowland’s film never feels like a documentary. Instead, it’s an inherently cinematic experience focused on comedy and adventure.

The photography is powerful, with classic compositions that heighten laughs or accentuate the dramatic plight of the men against the stark landscape. The performances, mostly from unknowns, are all first-class.

These passionate actors create a strange but appealing chemistry, as their characters bicker and banter their way to cooperation. Refreshingly, there are no good guys or bad guys in a script which emphasises humanity and skilfully incorporates back stories.

Lucky Miles doesn’t push any political agenda.
What it does do is entertain – and as it does so it lets us walk many a mile in the shoes – when they have them – of the refugees behind the headlines.

First and foremost, though, it’s a comic adventure that’ll leave a smile on your face. Four stars.