Long-distance relationships aren't exactly an easy thing to depict. This isn't to say certain filmmakers haven't tried, but the results -- like Going the Distance and Like Crazy -- have been of middling quality, at best. But 10.000KM understands exactly how distance plays a factor in the way some relationships work.
Kicking off with a gorgeous 22-minute scene that unfolds in one take, 10.000KM introduces the audience to its couple, Alex (Natalia Tena) and Sergi (David Verdaguer), who just happen to be the only characters in the film. They're living in Barcelona together, they're sexually fulfilled and completely in tune, as both the script and the lack of editing in this opening sequence show. But when Alex gets a grant to move to L.A. to work on her photography career, and she takes it, things get choppy for the couple, both figuratively and literally.
Just like that, they're across the world from each other and the film falls into a style that feels almost unnatural, even though it's exactly the kind of thing one sees in cinema regularly. That's one of 10.000KM's most impressive features: technical aspects that complement its narrative perfectly. As their relationship falls out of sync, so does the seamless way that the first scene unfolded. Their days away from each other are marked on screen, DAY XX flashing between each individual moment the audience is shown. But that's not the only thing that interrupts the typical live-action scenes.
One of the biggest complaints against long-distance relationship films is that there would have to be an abundance of Skype calls to situate the plot, and that nobody wants to watch a relationship unfold through texts or video chatting. Carlos Marques-Marcet proves that notion wrong in no time at all, showing that the scenes between Alex and Sergi -- be they text messages, Google Maps inserts, or video calls -- are just as compelling as any romance where the people are together in person. The video looks as fuzzy as a real video call would be, giving it an authenticity that's much appreciated. And even though we watch a character slow dance while holding their likely cold laptop, the scene feels warm and natural; the film nails the feeling of being with the one you love through thick and thin.
And that's why 10.000KM works: it balances the light and the dark of being in a long-distance relationship. The struggles and the joys blend together. More importantly, neither Marques-Marcet or his two talented (and beautiful) actors shy away from anything that comes with being in love. They bare all for the camera, emotionally and physically, but never make it seem as though their relationship is anything other than what everyone goes through.
Couples fight, couples walk around naked, and couples experience moments that both seem to last a lifetime and others that disappear as quickly as they came. Because of this brutal honesty, and Dagmar Weaver-Madsen providing an opening long take that Emmanuel Lubezki would be jealous of, 10.000KM proves it's leagues above others in its company.
10.000KM will be playing at the Olympia Theater at Gusman Center on Friday, November 21, at 9:45 p.m. as part of the 2014 Recent Cinema in Spain program. Tickets cost $12. Visit miami.recentcinemafromspain.com.