Language Lessons (2021)

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Natalie Morales transcends the all-too-familiar (thanks COVID-19) movie-made-on-screens gimmick to bring us an intensely moving story of human connection.

Adam (Mark Duplass) has been given a set of online Spanish lessons by his husband Will (Desean Terry). Not quite loving the surprise, he settles in to an awkward conversation with his teacher, Cariño (Natalie Morales), who lives in Costa Rica. What begins as a chore, slowly becomes a friendship as they help each other through difficult times.

I can’t really do justice to this film by describing the plot, and to explain too much would spoil the journey as we, like Adam and Cariño, don’t really know how it is going to unfold. They are the only two we see on screen and, yes, it is all constructed from video messages and conversations but it does not seem stilted. Morales, who wrote and directed, gives us texture and variety by having the protagonists move around their homes or streets while they talk, subtly showing us the differences in their situations and an insight into their personalities. The performances of Duplass and Morales are very naturalistic, full of awkwardness and apologies and then shared confidences as they get to know each other.

I found it deeply emotional as I watched the imperfect formation of a relationship, refreshingly platonic and no less intense because of that. It seems a perfect film for our era of lockdowns, showing that isolation is a state of mind, not a situation.

Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

One thought on “Language Lessons (2021)

  1. Pingback: MIFF 2021 Wrap Up (a.k.a. What Lockdown?) | fillums

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