Dir.: Carlos Marques-Marcet; Cast: Natalia Tena, David Verdaguer;
Spain 2014, 99 min.
Beautifully acted with the camera successfully integrating all electronic media into the narrative, this is a slim but convincing example of a relationship drama that explores the limits of the male psyche. In painting a picture of unrelenting patriarchy in a world which has changed so dramatically, Carlos Marques-Marcet is always inventive and original in examining the couple’s interaction, showing that distance is not the real reason for the stand-off in their relationship.
We meet Alex (Tena) and Sergi (Verdaguer) first in their flat in Barcelona, making passionate love, trying for a baby. After their exhausting love making, the electronic world intrudes not for the last time: Alex, a photographer, is offered a residency at LA, a last chance for her flagging career. Sergi, a music teacher, who has to succeed in some board examination coming up soon, is at first dead against her move, but gathers himself and agrees. After all it’s just 12 month – and with the help of Skype, Facebook and Internet they hope to be well enough connected, to keep their relationship going. At least that is what they believe.
At first, all goes to plan, thanks to Skype, Sergi learns everything about Alex’s new environment. But than, thanks to over-sharing of her Facebook updates, he learns “that she could stay forever in this city”. Doubts starts to germinate in Sergi’s mind, not helped by Alex forgetting his examination, which he fails miserably. Whilst Alex is being more and more absorbed by her professional world, Sergi struggles with his loneliness, shutting himself up in the flat. Finally he snaps, destroying their favourite vinyl record and other memorabilia in front of the Skype eye, with Alex watching tearfully. A short truce is then jeopardised when it becomes inevitable that she might have to stay longer in LA. Emotional blackmail is followed by Sergi suddenly turning up at Alex’ doorstep. Their whisky- fuelled lovemaking is short and brutal – the opposite of their first tender encounter we shared.
Social media destabilises Sergi and his rampant possessiveness takes over. As long as he feels in charge, he gives Alex the freedom she needs. But after failing professionally himself, he wants her back home, to prop him up, blackmailing her emotionally. When she does not give in, he reacts with panic. He is, like many males, unable to live with a woman who might be more professional successful in their professionally than himself. As their bond unravels, the couple have to find a new way back into their relationship. AS
LFF 9.10. 21.00 Rich Mix, 10.10. 21.00 NFT1, 12.10. 12.45 VUE7
THE LONDON FILM FESTIVAL RUNS FROM 9-19 OCTOBER 2014