Language Lessons is a two-hander with Natalie Morales and Mark Duplass as strangers involved in long distance Spanish lessons. He’s a student in California, she’s the teacher in Costa Rica. Their conversations lead to a friendship.
Everything happens by video in Language Lessons. Although it was made during COVID, it isn’t about that. It’s about a remote student/teacher relationship that could happen anytime.
Natalie Morales directed the film. It was her first director’s gig for a full length feature film, followed soon after by the much more complex Plan B. Morales and Mark Duplass wrote and shot the film together in mere weeks.
Mark Duplass is super skilled at the intimate, small cast, indie film. Natalie Morales shows her ability to produce similar great work with low budget and circumstances that require invention.
The story begins when Adam’s (Duplass) husband gives him 100 Spanish lessons as a gift. Cariño (Morales) is the teacher. Adam’s already quite fluent in Spanish and they start right off with immersion in conversation in Spanish.
Because of something that happens to Adam early on, their conversations quickly veer into personal information. Much as Cariño tries to behave like a professional teacher, the two of them begin to connect on a human level. It’s not a romance. It’s a friendship.
As time passes with more lessons, more unscheduled chats, more personal messages passing between them, they clearly come to care about each other. The support and help each other and finally become solid friends. It’s a lovely, warm film with a deep emotional heart and two excellent performances.
The film is streaming on HBO Max.