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10,000 Km – BFI London Film Festival 2014

October 13, 2014

FestivalsFilm + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


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10,000 Km is another romance film that deals with the consequences of how developing technology helps and hinders human relationships. Whilst last year’s Her dealt with a full-on relationship with an artificial intelligence, replacing the human partner, 10,000 Km dissects whether technology alone is enough to sustain a relationship.

When Alex (Natalia Tena) gets the chance to move to Los Angeles for a year, to fulfill an artist residency, she leaves behind her boyfriend, Sergi (David Verdaguer), in Barcelona. The opening scene, 23 minutes long, is a marvel to watch as it follows the characters from room to room as their stable lives are torn apart by a sudden email.

A tender loving scene is broken with the news that Alex has just been given her career’s dream, as she puts it, her last shot at what she wants to do. As it dawns on her boyfriend, who is at first ecstatic for her, that their relationship is now at a fork in the road – just when they were thinking of having a baby – the to and fro of decisions, silent gestures, and ‘how will we make this work’ is just the start of the struggles the couple face.

From then on, the film is mostly told through Skype-sessions, Facebook updates, and the desperate phone calls. The film manages to keep a coherent emotional strand running when it is only told through digital screens.

The tight storytelling gives us only the two actors, since Alex’s newfound social life in the US is told only through social media posts. Although this limits to an extent the territory the film can explore, it allows the two central actors to really take the reins of the film and they carry it beautifully.

However, despite 10,000 Km tries its best to maintain momentum when told through computer screens, there’s only so much the director can do. As the story drifts along the year they spend apart, the couple runs out of inventive ideas to keep the spark alive, and the film itself suffers the same fate.

As they get bored with the mundane conversations, the audience begins to as well. Sergi complains, ‘Can we talk about something other than our relationship?’ but when Sergi’s life outside of the digital screens is nonexistent, while Alex has moved and made new friends, there is only jealousy and fights to be had.

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From trying to cook together to spicing things up with awkward cybersex scenes, Alex and Sergi try to pretend as if the screen between them as well as the 10,000 Km, don’t exist. But they do, and when running to someone’s door at midnight or having a slow dance with one another can tame the arguments between couples, there’s no such option here.

Despite cradling laptops while dancing together to The Magnetic Fields’ “Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing’ the couple can only ignore the screens between themselves for so long, and there is no replacement for the real.

Oliver Smith