Saying our lives have changed because of the pandemic is putting it mildly. And one of the things we’ve all had to get used to are online visits, meetings, classes and more. While Language Lessons doesn’t necessarily take place during the pandemic, the entire film looks familiar because it’s made through video chats between the two characters. It’s a charming film that is sweet, smart and best of all, surprising.
Adam (The Morning Show‘s Mark Duplass) wants to brush up his Spanish skills, but like a lot of things in his life he relies on his husband to make the move for him. After his husband signs him up for 100 Spanish lessons without telling him he meets Cariño (Dead To Me‘s Natalie Morales) through an online portal. The two instantly hit it off, even though they live thousands of miles apart. They share secrets with one another and help each other get through tragedy. And most importantly, they become an important presence in each other’s lives.
While Language Lessons isn’t necessarily unique (thanks in part to the aforementioned pandemic), it is an interesting way to tell a story. Essentially the entire film is watching two talking heads getting to know each other. They reveal plot points through speeches (sometimes long soliloquys) instead of action. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Mark Duplass and Natalie Morales shine in their respective roles. And they draw you into their worlds with such passion that you can’t wait to find out where they are going. The chemistry between the duo is incredibly powerful. This in part might have something to do with them writing the script together and getting closer to their characters. Morales even directed the film, which hopefully leads to bigger and better things for her.
Perhaps the best thing about Language Lessons is the way it surprises you. Some films would take the obvious way. A way that even the characters call out at one point in the film. And that’s because one of them starts making assumptions. The question, what is the narrative you’ve written, is especially powerful when asked and will make you ask the question of yourself.
Language Lessons is a fun film that speeds by and leaves you satisfied when it ends. The technique of using video chat calls to tell the story is not one you’d want to see a lot of. But it works for this film. And it makes for an interesting look at two people who would have otherwise never have met.