Thursday, 2 October 2014

LFF 2014:
10,000 KM (aka Long Distance)

Director Carlos Marques-Marcet's first feature is the sharply observed story of two Barcelona-based lovers divided by the titular ten megametres when Alex (Natalia Tena) lands a year-long work placement in LA. She and Sergi (David Verdaguer) conduct their long-distance relationship online, and everything goes as smoothly as you'd expect, i.e. not very.

An elegantly structured two-hander, 10,000 KM's first scene - and indeed its entire first act - is one unbroken 23-minute shot in which the couple have it off, make breakfast and discuss their impending situation. Technically and formally impressive, it also serves to add weight to the relationship, reinforcing their intimacy: here's a couple so entangled with each other they can't even be separated by a cut. And massive props to Tena and Verdaguer; the pair are so convincingly natural the film begins to resemble an uncomfortably intimate documentary.

Once they part, 10,000 KM becomes something else: a ground-level examination of what it's like when your partner isn't physically there but is, nevertheless, permanently present, either on a laptop screen or haunting the very fabric of the space they once inhabited. Marques-Marcet deploys an arsenal of tricks to show Alex and Sergi attempting to hang on to each other via Skype, Facebook, email and WhatsApp, but mercifully avoids Hollywoodising the situation: satellite delays and picture breakups are all par for the course, backing up the realism the film's actors invest in its setup.

By turns lovingly tender and brutally raw, Marques-Marcet's film comes across as the perfect, small-scale directorial debut, economically realised but emotionally rich. And despite its apparent simplicity, it's one of those rare stories that can only be told on film: its bookends are stagey but the middle act is visually innovative and deceptively complex without appearing gimmicky.

All that said, I do have one major issue with the film's title:
I mean, come on guys. It took me 0.42 seconds to find that out.

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