Though it may surprise viewers plunged into the film's disoriented universe, a bright streak of normality runs through 57,000 Kilometers Between Us
. The debut feature from French photographer and video artist Delphine Kreuter tracks the daisy chain of relationships-some blood, some broadband-fanning out of one hyperactively dysfunctional family, and though this sounds like the red meat of many a "quirky" American indie, in Kreuter's hands the story feels disarmingly new. Her means are digital, her method purposeful randomness, her material aggressively au courant
, seamlessly comprising transsexualism, global adoption, webcams, and multiplayer gaming. The plot is impossible to summarize. Eventually, however, 57,000 Kilometers
coheres around a single theme, Kreuter's update to E.M. Forster's ageless plea: Only connect. As the film mucks around in the void between connecting, in the internet sense, and connection, in the human one, 57,000 Kilometers
settles on a heroine-Nat, the 14-year-old daughter of Nicolas/Nicole (the aforementioned transsexual)-and Margot, a high-strung homemaker whose new husband, Michel, has drafted the immediate clan into his video blog project. Nat mostly keeps to her room, as much to steer clear of Michel's compulsive filming and posting as to further her two online flirtations. One, disturbing, is an instant-messaged back-and-forth between Nat and a man who likes to act like a baby (Mathieu Amalric, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
); the other, tender, is conducted via a video game with Adrien, a teenager dying in sterilized seclusion. Even his own mother can't bear to visit him. Though it's played out with a refreshing lack of sentimentality, the romance between Nat and Adrien emerges as the picture's heart-a heart Kreuter wastes no time in breaking.