AFI Fest 2014 Review: 10,000 KM And The Space Between

Contributor; Toronto
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AFI Fest 2014 Review: 10,000 KM And The Space Between
10,000 KM is a film that knows exactly what it means to be in a long distance relationship. Having lived through one himself, director Carlos Marques-Marcet ingeniously communicates the experience through a minimalism that tugs at the heartstrings far more effectively than the lion's share of love films which tend to fall victim to their own sensationalism. More often than not, less is more, and few films provide a better example of this than 10,000 KM - one of 2014's most stunning feats.

The film is driven by the performances of Natalia Tenaand and David Verdaguer who play Alex and Sergi, a couple deeply in love, living in Barcelona with high hopes of starting a family. The film's remarkable opening shot depicting the couple's efforts to bear a first child are so authentically romantic in establishing the couple's infectiously endearing norm, that it's more than enough to set the stage for the tragedy to unfold when their intimacy is interrupted by a job offer for Alex to undergo a photography residency in Los Angeles. Realizing what a great opportunity the grant is for Alex, Sergi swallows his wary heartache, confident that love conquers all. What's a few thousand kilometers in the face of real love?

So begins the crux of their situation's reality and the meat of the film's story. Told almost entirely through long-distance video chat exchanges, what begins as a lovingly playful effort to make the best of a bad situation, time gives way to the increasingly irrepressible elephant of distance, first literally, then by and by into the realm of the heartbreakingly figurative.

Though 10,000 KM is completely limited to scenes of two characters video chatting for several hundred days, the film manages to thoroughly examine intimacy in all its stages - from a peak point that transcends the physical space between, to the inevitability of chore-like routine which is bound to occur once physicality is removed from the equation. There are few things more saddening than watching a genuine connection get reduced to the impersonal platform of social media, keeping abreast of each other's lives via photo tagging.

Despite the aforementioned summary that may paint the film as a cautionary tale about the perilous doom of long-distance relationships, that such an undergoing inevitably results in separation is not the film's message. 10,000KM is too smart to generalize an outcome. More to the point, the wisdom contained within has to do with the knowing view that even the strongest seeming relationships are fallibly susceptible to the corruption of distance. In the process of communicating this harsh truth, 10,000 KM also paints a portrait of the nature of real love through its telling of post-honeymoon intimacy. It's not cynical... it's just the way it is. Sigh...
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AFI FestCarlos Marques-Marcet