An emotionally powerful look into long distance relationships that few are able to capture.
In Carlos Marques-Marcet’s debut feature 10,000 KM, the title refers to the distance which now separates a couple after a job opportunity forces them to face the challenges of dating remotely. Marques-Marcet, who previously edited the equally subtle relationship film It Felt Like Love, proves that long distance relationships are just as difficult now as they were before smartphones, the Internet, and social media made it easy to stay constantly connected. Instead of concerning itself with elaborate backstories or uplifting messages, 10,000 KM immediately focuses in on a pivotal point in an intimate relationship. Authentic presentation and relatable situations makes the film easy to sympathize with and difficult to look away from.
Alex (Natalia Tena) and Sergi (David Verdaguer) have recently decided they’re ready to have children after dating and living in Barcelona together for seven years. But fate has other plans when Alex gets offered a once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity. The catch? Accepting this residency position means Alex will be living in Los Angeles 10,000 KM away from Sergi for an entire year. Naturally, the decision doesn’t come easy for the couple, but eventually they agree it’s too important to turn down. Besides, one year apart can’t undo the seven they’ve already shared right? All of this (and more) happens with an impressive 20-minute shot that remarkably captures a whirlwind of emotions without a single cut.
In the beginning of their long distance stint, the adrenaline of starting a new chapter in their lives fuel Alex and Sergi’s excitement. Alex can hardly contain herself during a virtual tour of her new apartment to Sergi, exchanging laughs and making fun of Americans’ love of Ikea and everything king sized. Though like most new things, this initial excitement eventually diminishes. It’s not long before the sound of incoming Skype calls become a burden instead of a treat and frequent photos of L.A. start feeling like twisting knives. The two lovers find themselves growing apart when conversations never seem to be on the same page and become less and less meaningful.
In a similar fashion to Spike Jonze’s Her, Marques-Marcet explores how technology is unable to compensate for physical presence. Skype allows Alex and Sergi to live on separate continents yet still communicate visually, go on virtual dates (and other romantic gestures), and even cook with each other. Using Google Maps, Alex explores nearby neighborhoods and shares her favorite new spots in the city with Sergi.
On the flip side, Marques-Marcet illustrates how technology can have a negative effect on relationships. Communicating through text can be slow and frustrating and Facebook creeping grants an uncomfortably close vantage for partners. 10,000 KM also makes a keen observation that data centers are where many relationships physically exist in the digital era. Despite a wealth of information and instant communication being just a click away, the film reminds us there is no substitution for physical contact.
While the majority of 10,000 KM takes place in just two apartments, the film avoids feeling claustrophobic using a wide range of technology to explore new areas. Also, the film runs the risk of being too simple and monotonous with its minimalistic setup, but tremendous performances from Tena and Verdaguer provide enough emotional substance to overcome the modest plot. Both leads deserved their acting awards from SXSW, their convincing portrayals helped 10,000 KM avoid the relationship clichés often shown in movies. Marques-Marcet knocks one out of the park in his feature debut, providing an emotionally powerful look into long distance relationships that few are able to capture.
Originally published on Oct. 8 2014