#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.
#TIFF17: “BATTLE OF THE SEXES”
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, written by Academy Award-winning Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and co-produced by Academy Award-winning Filmmaker Danny Boyle, the Sports Drama based around 1973’s high-profile tennis match pitting former World No. 1s Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) and Billie Jean King (Emma Stone), recreates the paths each player took to the highly-touted match.
The event would on a grander scale be a significant moment in women’s liberation with doubts being cast by its male organizers about women’s place and worth in society. The Film also looks at Billie Jean King‘s personal struggle with her identity, then married to husband Larry (Austin Stowell) and falling in love with hairdresser Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough).
While many of us know already the outcome of the match, Dayton and Faris do some phenomenal work helping us arrive at it.
If you think you’ve seen Oscar-winning Stone at her best, she throws us a tour-de-force here, stepping-up to the physicality of her role convincingly. Carell plays up Bobby‘s overconfidence and chauvinism, having fun with it and still makes us feel for him, which is no easy feat. Fantastic supporting turns from Riseborough, Sarah Silverman and Natalie Morales complete a strong Ensemble.
Battle of the Sexes screens TIFF ’17:
Sunday, September 10, 2017 6:00 PM Ryerson Theatre
Monday, September 11, 2017 2:30 PM Princess of Wales Theatre
Friday, September 15, 2017 3:00 PM Princess of Wales Theatre
Saturday, September 16, 2017 5:00 PM Ryerson Theatre