Km. 0 (Kilometer Zero)

Km. 0 (Kilometer Zero)

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Km. 0 (Kilometer Zero)

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The current population of Madrid, a bustling capital city in the heart of Spain, is roughly three million people. But if Juan Luis Iborra and Yolanda García Serrano's dreadful daisy-chain romantic comedy Km. 0 (Kilometer Zero) is to be believed, that number has dropped to around 14. While it's not unusual for stage plays or micro-budgeted indies to skimp on extras (and, in this case, cars and other street noise), it's oddly fitting that Iborra and Serrano would turn the city square of the title into a bombed-out village of the damned. How else to explain the ridiculously improbable series of coincidences, mistaken identities, and freak bits of timing that graft their paper-thin characters into blissful cosmic alignment? Like Do The Right Thing without the social consequence–or any other sort of consequence, for that matter–Km. 0 takes place on the hottest day of the year, when passions are running high and common sense has evaporated under the broiling sun. Strangers share meaningful connections and misconnections in the Puerta del Sol, the dead center of Madrid, though much of the confusion over who's who would be remedied had the script allowed them to identify themselves or ask a few obvious questions of one another. After a long-winded setup, the 14 principals are linked in neat concentric circles: A bored bourgeois housewife (Concha Velasco) calls on a strapping male escort (Jesús Cabrero) she later mistakes for her son. Continuing the chain, the escort's gay roommate (Miquel García) gets mistaken for the Internet hook-up arranged by a dancer (Víctor Ullate Jr.). The spurned hook-up instead takes a nervous, virginal businessman (Alberto San Juan) under his wing after the hooker (Elisa Matilla) who was supposed to show him the ropes is mistaken for an actress (Mercè Pons) who arrived late for a scheduled meeting with an aspiring young director (Carlos Fuentes). And so on, until this tangled mess requires frantic untangling in time for the finale. Few directors apart from Robert Altman could make such a large ensemble resonate, individually and collectively, over the relatively short space of a feature film. Iborra and Serrano hardly give their characters a second to breathe before rudely ushering them to their assigned destinies, which involve such crude soap-opera gambits as long-lost children, reunited adolescent sweethearts, and, most egregious of all, an invisible gay buddy. It's hard to fathom what they intended for this forgettable group of lonelyhearts, other than to choreograph a whopping 14 happy endings at once–all of them forced, none of them earned.

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