10,000 Km


Reviewed by: Rebecca Naughten

"A warm romantic drama with a real emotional punch."

A film about how distance can be more than geographical, 10,000 Km starts with a scene of physical and emotional closeness as Alex (Natalia Tena) and Sergi (David Verdaguer) make love and then lie in bed discussing the children they want to have together. As the sequence develops, writers Carlos Marques-Marcet and Clara Roquet adroitly and economically show the strength of this couple's relationship moments before they put their bond to the test. Checking her email as she prepares for the day, Alex discovers that she has been awarded an all-expenses paid, year-long photography residency in Los Angeles. Tena - who fluidly switches back-and-forth between her native English and impeccable Spanish - subtly registers the character's elation at the opportunity (unable to get paid work as a photographer in Spain, Alex has been teaching English) before the crushing realisation of what that would mean for her plans with Sergi renders her crestfallen.

She initially looks set to sacrifice her professional ambitions for the sake of her relationship, but Sergi insists that Alex take up the offer. The film is a two-hander - no other actors appear - but from this point on the challenge for the filmmaker and his actors is to make dynamic drama out of interactions that occur at one remove. Alex and Sergi will communicate via video on their laptops, and by text message and email (the difference a question mark can make to the tone of a message is amusingly illustrated when Sergi obsessively rewrites and edits an email to Alex), but are viewed by us in isolation - they don't technically share the screen for most of the film's running time.

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Technology and social media are often cringe-inducing when utilised in films, but although Alex using Google street-view to virtually show Sergi around her new neighbourhood is a bit gimmicky, 10,000 Km nonetheless deals with modern social interactions - and the extent to which we willingly give ourselves over to surveillance in online spaces - in a naturalistic fashion. Carlos Marques-Marcet uses the online spaces in a way that is immersive for the viewer.

This is aided in no small part by the calibre of acting - Tena and Verdaguer make what could have been an inert series of monologues (we often see them as the other character would, meaning that they are talking direct to screen) into conversations with dramatic and emotional heft. Sergi encourages Alex to engage with her new environment, only to find that when she follows his instructions he then has to deal with the hole she has left in his life as the one left behind - both actors make their characters' emotional development believable and involving. That we see neither of them outside of their respective domestic spaces illustrates both the hermetically-sealed nature of Alex and Sergi's relationship (they are each other's world) and the limits of their interactions when they are so far apart. The time difference means that their communications are rarely spontaneous, instead becoming a rote series of appointments that make the lack of physical contact glaringly apparent - it is difficult to slow dance with a laptop (although they do try).

But the skills of those in front of, and behind, the camera mean that the audience is not subject to the distancing-effect of computers, oceans, and those 10,000 kilometres - they have created a warm romantic drama with a real emotional punch.

Reviewed on: 13 Sep 2014
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10,000 Km packshot
Technology rather than love threatens a long-distance relationship.

Director: Carlos Marques-Marcet

Writer: Carlos Marques-Marcet, Clara Roquet, Natalia Tena, David Verdaguer

Starring: Natalia Tena, David Verdaguer

Year: 2014

Runtime: 99 minutes

Country: Spain

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