Km. O


The zero in the “Km. O”–the title refers to the spot in a Madrid’s Plaza del Sol, from which distances are measured in all directions (in kilometers, of course)–seems entirely right. This Spanish import is certainly a weightless, empty concoction. But while it strives for a light, airy quality, the picture comes across as too forced and contrived to be satisfying.

This is one of those stories in which, in a city of several million inhabitants, a mere handful accidentally find their way to one another in a single location, a largely empty bar. The hook is that a bunch of characters, unknown to one another, link up in the wrong combinations after all arrange to meet at the titular place. Pedro (Carlos Fuentes), a young would-be filmmaker looking to meet his sister’s friend Silvia (Marce Pons), an aspiring actress, mistakes Tatiana (Elisa Matilla), a likable prostitute, for her and returns to her place unaware of her profession. Tatiana had been supposed to connect with Sergio (Alberto San Juan), a soon-to-be-married businessman, whom she takes Pedro to be, and he instead falls in with Maximo (Armando Del Rio), an internet adviser who’d made a date with dancer Bruno (Victor Ullate Jr.), who mistakes an unattached fellow named Benjamin (Miguel Garcia) for him. Benjamin goes along with Bruno because his roommate Miguel (Jesus Cabrero), an escort-for-hire, has a liaison with Marga (Concha Velesco), an older woman in town with her businessman-husband but left alone by him. And what of Silvia? She’s blown off trying to find Pedro because she’s literally bumped into a movie director (Georges Corraface) whom she hopes to persuade to give her a part in his new project. Eventually everybody winds up at a bar presided over by a pleasant counter-man (Tristan Ulloa) who’s the fiancé of Amor (Silke); but Amor’s younger sister (Cora Tiedra) has eyes for the guy, while an eccentric policeman (Robert Alamo) falls for Amor while he takes her report on a purse-snatching.

The best one can say of this joint effort from Yolanda Garcia Serrano and Juan Luis Iborra is that you don’t need a scorecard to keep the characters straight (in terms of recognition, that is, not sexual orientation). Unfortunately, as a whole the picture has a terminal case of the cutes, and several of its plot twists are really bad ideas. When Marga, for example, comes to believe that Miguel might be her long-lost son, the fact that she’s already bedded him may cause as much discomfort in us as in her. When Pedro tries, in a Pygmalion-like effort, to turn Tatiana from a cheap hooker into an elegant one, and sets her up with Sergio (who’s already been introduced to drugs by Maximo), one may not find it all that charming. And when things take a supernatural turn near the close, with one figure being revealed as a sort of angelus ex machina, the reach for a gossamer, magical tone goes into overdrive–which wouldn’t be a terrible thing if it succeeded. It doesn’t.

The cast is mostly an amiable group, but with a few exceptions they seem to be pushing too hard. There’s a high-pitched, almost hysterical tone to many of the scenes that might be more at home on the boards, where the distance between players and audience would mitigate the effortful quality, than on the screen, where they seem more oppressive than light-hearted. The picture is given a candy-colored look by Angel Luis Fernandez, and Joan Biboloni’s perky score helps prod things along, but in the final analysis “Km.O” winds up as just one more of those romantic roundelays that depend too heavily on hopeless coincidence and contrivance to reach a happy ending.