10,000 Km

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday July 10, 2015

A scene from '10,000 Km'
A scene from '10,000 Km'  

The opening moments of Carlos Marques-Marcet's "10,000 Km" sketch out everything we need to know to take this journey, and offers (in embryonic form) the entire itinerary. The film starts in media res, with Sergi (David Verdaguer) and Alex (Natalia Tena) having sex. He wants her to slow down so he can guarantee her satisfaction; she charges on ahead, getting him off but not getting there herself.

It's a moment destined to be repeated in various motifs as the film progresses. The 22-minute-long pre-title sequence is done as one long, continuous take, and we haven't yet cut away from the two when the story clicks into place: Alex receives an email that informs her she's won a coveted residency as a photographer. It's an opportunity that's going to kick-start her career. The problem is that Alex -- a Brit living in Barcelona -- is going to have to relocate to Los Angeles for a year if she wants to take up the offer. Moreover, Alex and Sergi have been together for seven years already and are making plans to become parents. The residency won't just be a strain on their relationship; it's going to be a game-changer and a major delay in their family planning.

Anyone who has been in a long-distance relationship will sympathize with what follows. The two talk endlessly via Skype during Alex's early days abroad, attempting to retain some semblance of normalcy via electronic means. Alex gives Sergi the webcam tour of her empty new apartment; Sergio coaches Alex on cooking; the two make an abortive try at cybersex. As the days tick by, however, real non-digital life starts to intrude, and pre-existing cracks in their relationship widen. Feuds, jealous outbursts, Facebook stalking, and other ugly things begin coming to the fore.

Even in the throes of mounting pain, the film finds moments of uncanny serenity and beauty. An email Sergi writes and re-writes takes shape and unravels before us, reading like some sort of ultra-modern form of poetry. The two have verge-of-breakup conversations that vacillate between pillow talk and recrimination, with tentative plans for the future and nostalgia for the past mixing together. Sergi's machismo waxes and wanes. Alex, like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, tentatively starts to accept that her best path might not be the one she shares with him.

Aside from a photo or two, only the two actors appear in "10,000 Km," which is both more indy and more mature than its slick Hollywood cousin "Like Crazy." Both Verdaguer and Tena own the screen. They make for a sweet couple, but together or individually they are evenly matched, and they keep your full attention. What we need now is a film this honest and stripped down about two guys. If we had such a thing it would be hailed as a groundbreaking classic of gay cinema. As it is, dealing with a heterosexual romance, there's already precedent. That said, however, there's a layer of sadness and shadow about "10,000 Km" that feels distinctly drawn from gay cinema.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.