Whether by accident or by design, the very small budget Language course feels like a definitive movie for the Covid-19 era, as the two lead actors never appear in the same shot together until the very end. Seemingly created on two computers, this extremely modest story of a Spanish-speaking instructor and student meeting online becomes more engaging as it goes, though it never aims very high other than as a technical experience. who succeeds more or less. He plays home gear very well and it’s hard to imagine that there would be anything to gain from experiencing that Berlinale Special world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival on the big screen.
The screenplay of independent mainstay Mark Duplass and director-actress Natalie Morales is entirely limited to the discussions the two characters, Adam and Cariño, have during online language courses first purchased by his partner – 100 of them. them, nothing less. Adam and his mate Will are self-described gay Oakland yuppies who visual evidence shows are quite wealthy, a fairly new lifestyle for Adam, who can get by with conversational Spanish from based.
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The second lesson brings the news that Will is dead, hit by a car. Given that Adam is in shock, it’s hard to imagine he even taking the class, but in a week or two he engages quite well with Cariño, sitting in a tuxedo at the piano and inviting to learn. to use verbs correctly. “Ser” and “estar”.
As the sessions continue, one can begin to feel the tickle of an emerging dramatic comedy in the couple’s exchanges. They joke around some, Adam’s usage improves a bit, and they share information about the story: she was born in Cuba, moved to Costa Rica and then to Miami, when he was once married to a woman and had been with Will for five years.
But the budding friendship comes to an abrupt end when Cariño shows up online for a week with nasty scratches on his face. When Adam inquires about this, she insists that they have wasted time and should focus strictly on grammar; they should be more professional, she insists, putting a lid on their burgeoning boyfriend.
But on her birthday she calls again, nicely drunk and playing the guitar; she is funny when she is drunk. More intimacies are discussed, the relationship has certainly progressed far beyond that of the teacher and the student, but it still has issues and they both need to understand what is really going on here and from a distance. As the film nears its end, which takes just enough 91 minutes, it must decide whether it is going to identify itself as an unsolvable drama between two people in conflict or a romantic comedy in which unlikely partners give the film a whirlwind. life together.
It is a simple and minor affair done in a very modestly experimental way. But it speaks for its time, both in the way the two protagonists communicate exclusively electronically rather than in person, and hesitantly as they work out their emotional and sexual issues for themselves. A little film with modest virtues, Language course is nonetheless distinctive enough to make an impression and maybe even stay in the mind.