#SXSW: “LANGUAGE LESSONS”
Review by David Baldwin
Adam (Mark Duplass) longs to become fluent in Spanish again. He is apprehensive when he discovers that his husband paid for online Spanish lessons with teacher Cariño (Natalie Morales). Once they get to chatting however, Adam finds a friendship he did not expect – and one that will become even more important as their weekly lessons progress.
LANGUAGE LESSONS is a sweet slice of life tale about two wayward souls connecting over Zoom calls. While some may scoff at the Film taking place entirely over the video chat service and on video messaging taken with an iPhone, it makes what happens to this friendship between two characters all the more poignant and raw. So many of these scenes are uncut, making the extended conversations between Duplass and Morales feel all the more authentic and revealing. There is an honesty here in having each scene so focused on the characters’ faces and expressions that simply cannot be replicated if it were a traditionally made picture with both Actors in the same room. While some moments feel a bit too drawn out, I appreciated how it never felt flashy or overly-elaborate but always managed to feel special.
Duplass is as great as you expect, maybe even better. He has a knack for really honing in on the vulnerability of his character Adam and develops his personality quite beautifully over the course of the 92-minute running time. He shines in every moment, especially in the Film’s most emotional scenes. Morales is enjoyable and more than holds her own against Duplass. She is slightly more enigmatic and does not go nearly as deep as he does, but is still rather wonderful in all of her scenes. LANGUAGE LESSONS is her feature directorial debut and I am very intrigued to see what she does next.
LANGUAGE LESSONS screens at SXSW Wednesday March 17, 2021 starting at 3 PM.