Melbourne International Film Festival Review: 10,000km (Spain/USA, 2014)


Alex (Natalia Tena) and Sergi (David Verdaguer) are very much in love, living in a poky apartment in Barcelona and planning to have a baby when Alex is offered an un-missable career opportunity. In Los Angeles.

Living 10,000 kilometres apart, they make the best use of modern technology to stay in touch – Skype features heavily, along with all the other usual suspects like Google Maps and Facebook. For a while they can almost carry on as normal, appearing perched in lap top form, a part of the furniture in each other’s apartments.

But, disembodied from the relationship and each other, these devices cannot take the place of actual connection. Alex is miserable living a life half in meat-space LA, and half in cyber-space with Sergi, and the only thing to do, they both agree, is for her to make a proper life for herself in the place she physically inhabits for their one year apart. But instead of parallel independence from each other, the two are locked in a dangerous monkey grip, unable to let go or extract themselves. In the fallout, they must decide if they can find a way to get back to each other.

Littered with casual examples of the way that technology infiltrates our intimate relationships, the film examines the chasm between the virtual and the real with plenty of relatable examples. From a half-hearted conversation while a preoccpied Alex digitally crops images on her computer, to an enthusiastic yet somehow melancholy erotic Skype encounter that only serves to amplify their distance. In a particularly beautiful scene illustrating the difficulty so poignantly, an email is composed, deleted, composed and edited within an inch of its existence, to reveal the unsaid with agonising clarity.

So much is intimated with very sparse dialogue, and the conceit of technology lends itself to moments, both sweet (the couple lying in bed ‘together’, their disembodied faces peering out from the other’s laptop) and dark (Facebook stalking, anyone?). That these two begin to live separate lives is accentuated by a smattering of non-spanish language dialogue from Alex, revealing an native UK accent. It’s a surprise, almost like a whole other side is revealed, and her one-sided competence at living apart from Sergi is only affirmed by his very rare, clumsy English.

There is a claustrophobia to the film. From the cosy messiness of the Barcelona apartment, to the clean Ikea furnished whiteness of The LA apartment, there is no sense of world outside their relationship that is not received via Google Maps, or a photographed image, delivered and experienced second hand via a ubiquitous tech corporation.

But even so, the couple’s natural chemistry is palpable, drawing the audience right in to the pathos of the film. A deep and casual intimacy via long, uncut takes (the opening scene is over 20 minutes; an unbroken take that traverses intimacy, teeth brushing, coffee, and the lifespan of an argument from seed to resolution) set the tone for a love story in which the drama is an understated overlay to ordinary life.

In the end, what could have been a nerdy, tech-focused flick builds itself from the very beginning into pure, adorable class that is also an intelligent exploration of the role that technology plays in life and in love.


10,000km is screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival on the 8th and 14th of August. Tickets and more details:


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