MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 10, 2021: LANGUAGE LESSONS

After the last year and a half, it would be understandable if someone read the quick summary of Natalie Morales’ Language Lessons — two very different people bond through a series of online chats and messages — and thought “A Zoom movie? No way!” But this intimate, heartfelt dramedy is so much more than that. It’s a carefully observed character study about friendship, privilege, and the power of a genuine connection, whether it’s virtual or IRL.

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LANGUAGE LESSONS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

At a time when so much of our country is filled with divisive politics and ugly, stupid and false rhetoric while selfish anti-vaxers and anti-maskers refuse to do the right thing, here comes along a charming balm of a two-hander in the form of director Natalie Morales’s Language Lessons, which she wrote with her co-star, Mark Duplass. It provides a perfect oasis of sorts from all the pain and agony of the news headlines of late. It also might be the best Zoom meeting you will ever experience as well.

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LANGUAGE LESSONS – Review by Jennifer Merin

Language Lessons is a pandemic-inspired zoom-tech two-character, two- location, two-screen dramedy that’s thoroughly refreshing, emotionally engaging and, ultimately, utterly charming. Directed by Natalie Morales (who also stars and co-wrote the project with co-star Mark Duplass), the film follows the burgeoning understanding and growing friendship between Carino, a for-hire internet Spanish language teacher and her client, Adam, an affluent and bored white guy who has his regular daily routine and some social and emotional issues.

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LANGUAGE LESSONS – Review by Leslie Combemale

There’s a lot of buzz for pandemic indie Language Lessons. Co-starring Mark Duplass, who partnered with director Natalie Morales in writing the script, the film is the latest example of the screenlife film genre, in which all the storytelling takes place via a computer, tablet, or smartphone screen. Given that the world is universally experiencing Zoom fatigue, Language Lessons is a surprisingly poignant, bittersweet, sometimes uncomfortable exploration of platonic love, and it shows the depth and breadth of the talent of these two actors, who are tasked with keeping both forward momentum and building an emotional connection with viewers for 90 minutes. It is entirely worthy of its accolades, but should also come with a trigger warning for those still actively struggling with the pain of loss.

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LANGUAGE LESSONS (SXSW 21) – Review by Jennifer Merin

Language Lessons is a fine example of pandemic moviemaking at its best. Its conceit is simple, believable and appealing. There is nothing gimmicky about the production. Almost all of the action takes place via the internet — so there’s no need for social distancing and any inherent concern about or danger of contagion is eliminated. The story, essentially a tale of two characters who meet serendipitously on the internet, begins with their first encounter and follows their developing relationship as they, from afar and via the internet, offer each other support during harrowingly emotional experiences.

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LANGUAGE LESSONS (Berlinale 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

I want to wear this film in a heart shaped locket around my neck, focused as it is on that far too precious and rare subject matter in cinema: deep, life-changing friendship between a man and a woman with no romantic or sexual elements on any level. Language Lessons reduces me to monosyllables; it is just pure and good and hard and kind and – ultimately – just so, so, so real.

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