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“American Mileage” Is a Wild and Panoramic Ride

Written by: Robin C. Farrell | May 30th, 2024

American Mileage (Tim Hardiman, 2024) 3½ out of 5 stars

While the expression “one-man band” can often be used in a general, even metaphorical manner, nomadic busker Cam Cole is the real deal. The new documentary American Mileage showcases the musician’s rise to notoriety, dabbles in his backstory, and chronicles his tour through the American South.

The film doesn’t delve too deep into Cole’s past, only going as far as his influences and inspiration. This is not a biography by any means, but rather a snapshot of his persona and an active moment captured in his life, told almost entirely from his point of view. This is also a somewhat touristy look at the U.S. but the level of fanfare with each show spans a vast range, from larger stages in filled bars to barely finding a space to set up on a crowded street to juke joints, all of which draws us in.

l-r: Cam Cole poses with Bobby Rush inside his home in Jackson, Mississippi ©7th Floor Films

This is a gorgeous-looking, well-paced film, thanks especially to Director of Photography Ben Sherrill and first-time director Tim Hardiman, who also edits the film. The visuals compliment the killer soundtrack well, with an aesthetic clearly inspired by rock-n-roll and blues combined with a very tactile “travel log” vibe, but the trappings never get so disorienting as to lose you. The film stays grounded throughout, whether kinetic or when the foot-stomping energy slows to a halt in tranquil, historic spaces, for Cole to stop and take it in.

And it is a journey; while this is a good time, there is a lot of history intertwined into the road trip, more than expected. The only real area of disappointment is how the film dances around the subject of cultural appropriation. Some of the finer points of the racism baked into American history, particularly in the South, is a little glossed over. More time on the subject would have been valuable and the hope you may be left with is that Cole’s curiosity and exploration doesn’t end here. However, Cole’s focus and intention in this film is unity and the search for joy, “chasing that high,” as he says, through music and through musical collaboration and evolution.

l-r: Director Tim Hardiman and Cam Cole pose for a photo before Cam plays music at Stovall Farm ©7th Floor Films

For anyone, like me, who first glimpsed Cole’s appearance as himself on the Apple TV series Ted Lasso (season 1, episode 4), performing his song, “Mama,” this documentary will not disappoint. Regardless of your familiarity with Cole, however, his incredible talent is obvious from the jump. The film clocks in at just shy of 90 minutes but it moves at a speedy, compelling clip, so long as you’re on board for the adventure.


Robin C. Farrell is an editor, videographer, author, and nerd. Video production lead for Trail Grid Pro in Frederick, MD, she also competes in annual film races as part of Star Wipe Films. Farrell self-published her first book, Resistance Rising: A Genre Wars Novel,, and is the co-host and producer of Coffee & Contemplation, a Stranger Things podcast.

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