Movie Review: LANGUAGE LESSONS

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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, some social and emotional issues and, suddenly, a heartbreaking personal loss to deal with.

In contrast to financially-challenged Carino, who lives in a very modest apartment in Costa Rica, privileged Adam resides in a luxurious and perfectly appointed Oakland abode where he rarely interacts with anyone other than his beloved husband, Will (Desean Kevin Terry).

As the film opens, Will has set up a surprise birthday gift for Adam — a series of 100 weekly online Spanish language immersion lessons. After protesting that the lessons will disrupt his morning routines, Adam grudgingly accepts the gift to placate Will. The first lesson turns into a an amusing exchange of banter.

But on the second lesson, an emotionally bereft Adam informs Carino that Will is dead, and as the lessons progress, they take on an unexpectedly intimate tone and become a candid exchange of feelings, personal needs and dreams. Carino and Adam suddenly find themselves caring from afar for each other, and as the friendship deepens, it becomes a healing factor in both their lives.

Morales and Duplass are absolutely superb in the two hander they’ve created together. There is authenticity in the humor and heartache they express. Their characters are entirely relatable and their performances are utterly engaging.

A project born of the pandemic and imposed isolation, and produced during the lockdown, Language Lessons is a dramady that reflects many of the personal issues brought on by the pandemic, but it is not about the pandemic per se — and that makes it a very special entertainment. And, if you’re quite attentive, you may even improve your Espanol!!!

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