Natalie Morales photo cred Jeremy Mackie 4653f

New Natalie Morales’ Film Language Lessons, Explores Zoom-Facilitated Long-Distance Friendships

by Debbie Stoller



Written and directed by Natalie Morales

Out September 10

Natalie Morales, the actor, has been gracing our screens for more than a decade (Parks & Recreation, Battle of the Sexes, Dead to Me), but Morales the director is having a moment: Language Lessons, which she co-wrote and stars in with Mark Duplass, is one of the two features she helmed during lockdown. It’s the quiet, intimate flipside to Plan B, the chaotic quest movie she directed for Hulu, and both are must-sees. Much of Language Lessons’ closeness comes from the format- it was filmed entirely over Zoom, the perfect vehicle for the touching tale of a long-distance relationship. 

Duplass plays Adam, a guy whose husband gifts him weekly Spanish classes with Morales’ Cariño in Costa Rica. At first, Adam’s lavish home, “kept man” lifestyle, and charmingly self-centred banter rankle Cariño. But a tragedy sets their lessons on an unexpected trajectory, and with only two locations, two actors, and lots of talking, the story is carried mostly by their captivating charisma and chemistry. Audiences get to know each other, with all the awkwardness, caginess, and unexpected vulnerability an online-only relationship can foster. Watching can feel like eavesdropping, and you’ll want to keep spying on this duo after the final frame. – LISA BUTTERWORTH

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Mackie

 This review originally appeared in BUST’s Fall 2021 print edition. Subscribe today!

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