Interview with Mark Duplass & Natalie Morales of ‘Language Lessons’
by Alex Billington
September 21, 2021
A chat with Adam & Cariño. One of my favorite films of 2021 is this wonderful little gem called Language Lessons, directed by and starring Cuban-American actress / filmmaker Natalie Morales, and co-starring Mark Duplass. I first saw this at the Berlin Film Festival earlier in the year and instantly fell for it, writing a glowing review back in March. I’ve been raving about it all year, telling everyone else to watch it and enjoy it. I would go so far as to say it’s the best pandemic-inspired Zoom-screen film out of any made in the last two years. Mostly because the story is a meaningful story about connection, and it’s not just using Zoom as a gimmick. I haven’t done any new interviews in a long time, but when I was offered the chance to talk with Natalie and Mark – I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I did this interview the day I arrived in Venice for this year’s Venice Film Festival, and I still took the time to chat with them and ask them about making this film.
I’ve been a big fan of Mark & Jay Dupass ever since Baghead premiered (yes here’s my review from 13 years ago) at Sundance in 2008 – though their feature debut was the film The Puffy Chair at SXSW in 2005. I’ve followed their career and watched all of their films since then, and now they’re doing their best to support other up-and-coming talented filmmakers through their production company Duplass Brothers Productions, which is so refreshing to see. I’m glad I could chat with both Mark and Natalie – two tremendously talented filmmakers. And if you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch Natalie’s other film Plan B showing on Hulu. So without any further ado – here is my video interview held over Zoom with the stars of Language Lessons:
Click the photo above to watch the trailer. Or read my Berlinale review, where I say the film is “patient and lovely in its heartfelt reminder that friendship is vitally important… Let love glow, let it shine, let it heal us.”
When Adam’s (Duplass) husband surprises him with weekly Spanish lessons, he’s unsure about where or how this new element will fit into his already structured life. When tragedy strikes, his Spanish teacher, Cariño (Morales), becomes a lifeline he didn’t know he needed. Adam develops an unexpected, complicated emotional bond with her—but do you really know someone just because you’ve experienced a traumatic moment with them? Bittersweet, honest, and at times darkly funny, Language Lessons is a disarmingly moving exploration of platonic love. Language Lessons is directed by Cuban-American actress / filmmaker Natalie Morales, making her feature directorial debut with this – she also directed Plan B after this one. Co-written by Natalie Morales and Mark Duplass. Produced by Mel Eslyn. This premiered at the 2021 Berlin Film Festival (read our review), and went on to win an Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival this year. Shout Factory will debut Language Lessons in select US theaters on September 10th, 2021. See this film.
For details on how to watch Language Lessons – visit the film’s official website. Playing in theaters now.