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Close Away [Miguel Ángel Cardona, Spain, 2020]

Close Away (Cerca de Lejos) illustrates the evolving nature of human sexual interactions; highly topical in an age of physical isolation and a contrastingly increasing intimate cyberworld, as humanity flocks into a virtual abyss in an attempt to foster any meaningful connection at our disposal.

Partners Javi and Laura orientate a clumsy and imperfect experience of intimacy through conversation, the imitation of physical touch and self-pleasure through video call. The title’s oxymoron highlights the antagonistic nature of our relationship to technology, as online communication platforms nurture interconnectivity, yet breed feelings of mental solitude.

The film is filmed entirely from Javi’s home and, thus, Laura remains disembodied for the viewer, just like for Javi, allowing viewers to adopt and empathise with his experience. At times the actor remains monotone in his facial expressions, which can feel out of place. However, this does not detract from the sentimental nature of the viewing experience.

Sublime moments, such as Javi gently caressing Laura’s face on his computer screen in an attempt to touch her, capture the essence of how many of us feel, rendering the film relatable, human, and passionate. A later climatic scene that transitions from a video call to an imagined reunification of both partners, emphasises the slow blurring of virtual and physical realities and the couple’s longing for genuine connection. The absence of music throughout the film provides a stillness, allowing every confession of desire and longing uttered to become sonically piercing.

Instead of distracting the viewer with intricate editing and lighting, the film leaves us focusing only on the intimate relations between the protagonists. The surprising revelation at the end changes the tone of the film entirely, but the beauty of the film is not compromised.


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