KM. 0 (Kilometer Zero) takes place over the course of a single, brutally hot day in Madrid. (To fully appreciate the film, you'll really have to watch it in the summer, preferably with the air-conditioning turned off... then you'll have that extra bit of connection with the characters.) Fourteen characters – who, amazingly enough, are easy to keep track of – have made arrangements to meet up with one another, or are perhaps just going about their daily business. Friends, lovers, potential partners, clients, random encounters... the one thing they all have in common is that they all meet up, at various moments, at "KM. 0", the zero-kilometer marker in the center of Madrid. But while their various stories start out separate, a series of mistaken identities and accidental but influential encounters means that the lives of these different characters intersect in unexpected, surprising, and ultimately often life-changing ways.
Co-directors and co-writers Juan Luis Iborra and Yolanda García Serrano have a deft touch with the balance of comedy and drama here. With its overall light tone and its use of the comic technique of mistaken identity, KM. 0 isn't miscategorized as a "romantic comedy," but it has more depth than that. The variation in stories and character portraits afforded by the overall premise means that the filmmakers have a free hand to explore both comedy and drama here.
Some of the sub-plots lean toward the dramatic, and work well on the strength of the actors involved. The well-known Spanish actress Concha Velasco turns in a solid performance as a lonely middle-aged woman who decides to hire a "male escort" for the day, only to find that for each of them, there's an unexpected connection. It's the kind of plot material that could have been played as farce, and usually is (our culture isn't particularly kind to older women who are attracted to younger men), but KM. 0 plays it straight, and effectively so; by the end of the film, we see how there's a lot of depth to each character, especially Velasco's. In turn, other story threads are more sweetly romantic, such as the one in which a gay dancer's planned sex rendezvous, arranged by computer, accidentally ends up giving him a chance at a true relationship.
Other sub-plots fall more into the comedy category, such as the one in which a woman shopping for a birthday gift for her fiancé has her purse snatched on multiple occasions, and meets up with a decidedly wacky police officer when she reports the theft. We also get to see the "loosening up" of a very repressed and stressed-out office worker, and the "My Fair Lady / Pretty Woman" makeover of a prostitute when she accidentally hooks up with a kind-hearted aspiring film director (who ultimately adds a charming touch of self-referentiality to the film).
KM. 0 is a charming film with a sense of humor and a quirky style; it has its odd moments, but manages to balance things out nicely so that it never feels over the top. It's refreshing to watch a comedy that lets its humor come naturally, rather than going for forced jokes, and it's enjoyable to see the filmmakers spin out their dramatic stories with what feels like a kind and affectionate awareness of the human need to love and be loved.
KM. 0 appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is anamorphically enhanced. Colors and contrast are handled very well throughout the film, and I didn't see any instances of edge enhancement. Overall, the image is definitely on the soft side, with a slightly grainy appearance at times, but it's actually not something that detracts from the viewing experience to any noticeable degree; the viewing experience is a pleasant one. It's also very nice to see the subtitles handled as well as they are here. The English subtitles are optional, and when they're turned on, appear in an easy-to-read white lettering outlined in black. The translation is excellent as well.
The Spanish 2.0 stereo track provides a satisfactory listening experience, with the dialogue sounding clean and natural. The one problem that I noticed is that in a few scenes, the musical part of the soundtrack is a bit too loud relative to the dialogue that's going on at that point. Apart from that, the track does the job well for a film that's basically dialogue-focused. Optional English subtitles are included.
The only bonus content here is a set of trailers for other films in TLA's International Film Festival series: I Will Survive, Latter Days, Between Your Legs, Possible Loves, and Bulgarian Lovers.
KM. 0 may not be the kind of film that knocks you off your feet, but it has a charming way of insinuating itself into your good graces, making it, I think, quite re-watchable. With elements of romance, comedy, and drama woven together into a light-hearted and fun story, KM. 0 is easy to like. Recommended.