Everybody knows somebody who has attempted a long distance relationship. It could mean having a partner on the other side of the country, or the other side of the world – either way it’s a challenging prospect that requires fidelity, endurance and patience. While such themes had been explored in Drake Doremus’ Like Crazy, Carlos Marques-Marcet’s stunning drama 10, 000km tackles the issue in a far more naturalistic, disquieting way, in what is simply a wondrous study of relationships in the modern world.

Opening with a rather explicit sex scene between Alex (Natalia Tena) and Sergi (David Verdaguer), instantly we cast an eye over an impassioned, intense relationship, and given their conversation about having a child only moments after, an indefinite one too. However when Alex is offered a job in Los Angeles to fulfil her dream of becoming a photographer, the pair decide she should take the placement, and leave Barcelona for the year long programme. Speaking intermittently through Skype conversations, eventually they begin to get sucked deep into the hole that has been left in their respective partner’s absence.

Where 10, 000km is such a special production, is by depicting the couple to seem so efficaciously stable, with an infallible bond. Many of us who have been in love will relate to their relationship, which then enhances the devastation of their eventual decline, as we can place ourselves in their position. Such is the realism of this piece – and the two exceptional performances at hand, that it casts an alarming sense of fear into us, that this can happen to anyone. But in order for the audience to feel so emotionally invested in this tale, it takes an accomplished director to earn that trust, and this searingly realistic piece is so identifiable in the early stages that it’s uncomfortable to sit through at times, particularly during the more romantically inclined sequences.

The structure of this narrative is an ingenious one too, as we have only two characters in this entire tale, and we never once deviate away from their locations – Sergi’s flat in Barcelona, and Alex’s small apartment in Hollywood. We don’t need anything else – Marques-Marcet is placing us in this particular time and place and wants us to focus solely on this couple and how they cope with communicating from afar. It never once feels claustrophobic either, thanks to how Alex’s pictures and the way she shows Sergi the neighbourhood on Google Earth, allowing us to form a perfect picture of her setting. It does, however, become rhythmic and inevitably tedious at times – yet such a sensation is essential when placing ourselves in the shoes of these lovers, as we need to get a sense for the monotony that exists.

10, 000km is captivating cinema, showing that you don’t need special effects or big action set pieces to tell an engrossing tale, and sometimes a more simplistic, stripped down approach can be so beneficial. Marques-Marcet has explored a relatable theme, in how people have to juggle their work and personal life, and one that is extremely pertinent for many people – and the result is something quite sublime, if somewhat dispiriting.