The opening shot of this minimalist gem is an amazingly controlled and choreographed twenty-something minute record of intimacy, shot inside a Barcelona apartment in which a couple – photographer Alex (Natalia Tena, Harry Potter’s Nymphadora Tonks) and student Sergi (David Verdaguer, a smouldering Devendra Banhart type) are making love, after which they go about their morning routine: showering, teeth brushing, the occasional ass-grab and peek around the corner with a flushed smile – things you wouldn’t necessarily expect of a long-term couple. During breakfast however, Alex reveals she’s been offered a yearlong residency in L.A. David is shocked and sad to see Alex contemplating whether to stay or go (whilst watching this scene, my mind wandered to my own relationship, where I find even a meagre 5 KM too much). She does go. And this is their first crack.
The film is structured as a partial diary record. “Day 1”, “Day 33” etc. roll by through the lens of a semi-seamless Skype connection. For a while, things are fine. Alex shows David the ins and outs of her new life through the use of Google maps and Skype, and David teaches her to cook for her new friends. But gradually David yearns for more, as his life, rather than being exhilaratingly new and energizing, is emptier than it has ever been. Where the opening shot emphasized the characters’ connectedness and ease, the rest of the film’s short, quick exchanges are all about disconnect and separation.
10,000 KM critiques the powers of technology, exposing that its purpose to bring people closer can really only be fulfilled at an informational level, but can be no replacement for physical presence. It’s heart-breaking but inevitable to see the intimacy slip. After a drought in the amount of calls they make to each other, they discuss their relationship. Alex words how they used to always talk so easily, about everything and nothing. David acknowledges this and says “yes, but we didn’t have the obligation to talk before.” This painstakingly obvious hint towards their decline is at the same time a very apt way of commenting on technology’s manner of driving people apart. If you don’t talk, you’re being anti-social. But that is not the way it should be.
After seeing it more than a week ago, the soundtrack still rings in my head. The main track especially – the love song, whose role throughout the film is to wash away all worries and put all sorrow on hold – bears the film’s weight perfectly. We see the couple Skyping, dancing to the tune while holding their laptops against them. The Magnetic Fields, the band behind the song, seemed to have known this movie would come along when they wrote it, because yes, indeed, “[n]othing matters when we’re dancing”.