10.000 KM aka LONG DISTANCE (2014)

Running Time: 99 mins.                     Rating: x Stars/5 Stars

MPAA Rating: NR

Director: Carlos Marques-Marcet

Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance

Country: Spain

Language: English and Spanish & Catalan w/English subtitles

Distributor: Broad Green Pictures

Cast: Natalia Tena, David Verdaguer

Reviewed at BAMcinemaFest


In the good old days before the Internet, or better still before the telephone was invented, people used to write letters. This is how we got such a wealth of information about the thoughts of our own founding fathers here in the U.S.  When friends, families, and lovers regularly wrote to one another, we called those epistolary relationships, which is (kind of) what the two lovers have in Carlos Marques-Marcet’s film 10.000 KM.

Marques-Marcet, heretofore known for directing only shorts like THE YELLOW RIBBON (she agrees to marry him only if he asked her nothing about her past and nothing about the ribbon she wears around her neck) made a feature length movie this time.  10.000KM, which represents the distance between Los Angeles where Alexandra has taken up a one year’s residence in photography while her lover of seven years, Sergio (David Verdaguer), remains in their small Barcelona apartment.  Marques-Marcet, who co-wrote this two-handler with Clara Roquest Autonell, wonders whether absence makes the heart grow fonder, or whether out of sight means out of mind.

Actually, though, neither is true.  If the couple were pursuing their different agendas in 1950, they would have had to spend a fortune on long-distance phone charges or do their continued verbal bonding by aerogrammes.  Now, however, they can chat as much as they want through Skype for only the price of a modem, wherein each person can appear visually on that technology’s still-blurry reception.  It’s not the same as face-to-face communication, and in fact, given the length of time that they are away from each other, the digital intercourse that takes place is so relatively impersonal that we wonder whether, at the end of the year, the two would be anything but embarrassed and tongue-tied, even acting like strangers having to reset their ties.

I don’t know if Marques-Marcet means to criticize the current popularity of texting and Skyping since, after all, it seems the next best thing to being there.  It’s not as though Alex and Sergio were spending a day in Barcelona’s Ciudadella Park each pecking out messages to people in cyberspace while virtually ignoring each other.

Whatever you think of the film—and it’s difficult to get wildly excited watching just two people on a big screen with no communication with anyone else, even in the background—you can’t fault cinematographer Dagmar Weaver-Madsen’s early-on shots of the couple first in a long bout of lovemaking, then taking showers, buttering toast for breakfast, and talking all with the usual basic camera tricks like close-ups and wide shots and all without a single edit.  The performers are up to the work.  David Verdaguer is a strikingly handsome young man with a huge head of black hair and a thick, well-trimmed beard, while his partner, Natalia Tena, could hardly be called box-office, to use an American term for noting a woman of great beauty.

In any case, despite the tediousness of the film’s minimalism, one can get somewhat excited at a not necessarily intended product placement for Google, as Weaver-Madsen focuses on the miracle of seeing street-level scenes in Los Angeles and a wide array of Alex’s photos, mostly of empty landscapes.  Appearances aside, Alex and Sergei do not make for people who transcend the dullness of their conversations.


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