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Love takes a chance at a meeting place in sun-splashed Spain

August 29, 2003|Kevin Thomas | Times Staff Writer

"Km. 0" takes it title from a marker in Madrid's spacious plaza Puerta del Sol designating the spot from which all road travel in Spain is measured. Inevitably, it's a popular meeting place, which has inspired writers-directors Juan Luis Iborra and Yolanda Garcia Serrano to create a sunny romantic comedy centering on seven couples who plan to meet at Kilometer Zero one day at 6 p.m.

Iborra and Serrano could not be more optimistic about the workings of fate but, in the gentlest way possible, they suggest that it's also important to take chances in life, especially when it comes to love. Made from a sophisticated European perspective, this is a light summer entertainment with an able, highly attractive cast.

Pedro (Carlos Fuentes) is a young aspiring filmmaker who has gone to Madrid and is to meet an actress, Silvia (Merce Pons), at Kilometer Zero; the actress is a friend of his sister's who has offered him a place to stay. But Silvia is so desperate at age 35 for a break that she dismisses Pedro from her mind to take a drastic step to waylay an important theater director, Gerardo (Georges Corraface), who is casting, of all things, a musical stage version of George Cukor's last film, "Rich and Famous."

Pedro has mistaken a prostitute, Tatiana (Elisa Matilla), for Silvia, and Tatiana has mistaken him for a virginal civil servant, Sergio (Alberto San Juan), nervous about his upcoming nuptials. Pedro will have an unexpected effect on Tatiana, as will Maximo (Armando del Rio), a wise, kindly and somewhat mysterious gay man who consoles Sergio, who thinks he has been stood up by Tatiana.

Marga (Concha Velasco, the film' strongest presence), an elegant middle-aged woman from Toulouse, feeling neglected by her busy businessman husband, arranges a meeting at Kilometer Zero with Miguel (Jesus Cabrero), an escort who expertly chases her blues away but inadvertently exposes her to a shocking coincidence. A distraught Marga seeks out a Puerta del Sol cafe where, attempting to pull herself together, she receives solace from Mario (Tristan Ulloa), a kindly bartender with romantic problems.

Meanwhile, Bruno (Victor Ullate Jr.), a hard-driving dancer who uses the Internet for quick sexual encounters, having no time for romance, goes to Kilometer Zero to meet Maximo and assumes he is passer-by Benjamin (Miguel Garcia), a pleasant young gay man who is ecstatic that Bruno approaches him.

In this sexy modern-day "A Midsummer Night's Dream," people find themselves feeling confused and vulnerable in unexpected, potentially painful predicaments but discover that following one's heart is the best course. Iborra and Serrano don't take themselves too seriously -- just enough to shade all that is lighthearted and fun in "Km. 0."

*

'Km. 0'

MPAA rating: Unrated

Times guidelines: Risque situations, language, some discreet nudity

Concha Velasco...Marga

Georges Corraface...Gerardo

Elisa Matilla...Tatiana

Carlos Fuentes...Pedro

Alberto San Juan...Sergio

A TLA Releasing presentation of a Warners Sogefilms/Universal co-production. Writers-directors Juan Luis Iborra and Yolanda Garcia Serrano. Producer Rafael Alvero. Executive producers Marc Cases, Pastora Delgado and Stefan Nicoll, Gianni Ricci (Universl Spain). Cinematographer Angel Luis Fernandez. Editor Jose Salcedo. Music Joan Bibiloni. Art director Ana Alvargonzalez. In Spanish, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

At the Regent Showcase, 614 N. La Brea Ave., L.A., (323) 934-2944, and UA Marketplace, 64 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 795-1386.

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