Alexandra (Natalia Tena) and Sergi (David Verdaguer), the only two onscreen characters in director/co-writer Carlos Marques-Marcet’s echt 21st century (yet also timeless) romance, “10,000KM,” have a sweet and sexy intimacy. They live in a small but sun- and book-filled Barcelona apartment and seem happy with their low-key lives (she teaches English, he’s preparing to take his boards in education). And after more than seven years together they have immediate plans to have a first baby. Sergi, not entirely joking, says eventually he wants six girls, all resembling their lovely mother.
But waking up on a Sunday morning, Alex checks her email and finds an unexpected acceptance to a year-long artist residency in Los Angeles. Having almost abandoned her ambitions for her career as a photographer she sees the opportunity as “el ultimo tren.” She accepts but both are determined not to let the time and distance derail their love and they don’t–initially.
The film is divided into relatively brief chapters, each designated by how many days have passed (e.g., Día 16). Alex and Sergi communicate constantly using digital tools–Skype, webcam, email, Facebook, a tour of her L.A. neighborhood on Google Earth–and we view their omnipresent screens with them.
On Día 59, concerned by how circumscribed Alex’s life seems, contained in a small apartment, stark white except for an orange lamp, Sergi ecourages her to get involved in her new life.
As the months pass, without each other’s physical presence and touch, the artificiality of online and its easy misunderstandings strain their rapport. It’s not the physical distance between them that creates the emotional distance, as much as gives it an opening. They want different things. Alex, tasting success with her photographs which comment on our digital age, plans a more expansive life and children recede into the future. And as a native speaker (she’s English) is comfortable and eager to stay in L.A. Sergi wants the life they had, which he had thought was permanent.
The chasm that has opened between them is shown in the contrast between the parallel opening and closing scenes (both of lovemaking). Plans for a future together have been replaced by an immeasurable sadness, a knowledge that love may not be enough to keep them together.
“10,000KM” will open on Friday, July 10 at the IFC Center and be available on VOD.