Language Lessons

My favourite films of 2022

As a new year begins it’s time to look back at the favourites of the year. These films are all pretty different but they were all films I enjoyed and made me laugh and/or cry or just made me feel big emotions.

RRR
Films like this is the reason why I don’t put together “favourites of the year” lists until right at the end of the year, or at the very beginning of the next because I watched RRR towards the end of December and if I’d already put together a favourites list then it wouldn’t have made it on the list. RRR is big and bombastic and it’s just a load of fun with fantastic songs and dance numbers.

Fire Island
Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite classics so I tend to have a soft spot for any retellings and Fire Island was so much fun! It’s so funny and gay and clever and a top tier Jane Austen retelling. It’s so fun, has big romcom moments and the found family trope I love so much and Conrad Ricamora is a perfect awkward Mr Darcy.

The Woman King
The Woman King is a stunning film on every level. The whole cast is brilliant and I got goosebumps multiple times due to the action, score, and performances.

Language Lessons
I love all these films on this list but this might be my favourite. Language Lessons gave me all the emotions and I loved how it was a story about the power of friendship and the power of human connection no matter the distance.

Plan B
It’s kind of a shame that there is now so many films about women’s struggle to get reproductive healthcare and nearly every one of them gets me in a different way. My favourite of this unfortunate subgenre is Plan B, directed by Natalie Morales, the director and co-writer of Language Lessons. It’s so funny and the ride or die friendship at the core of it is excellent and how the parents are surprisingly awesome too really sealed it as a favourite.

Everything Everywhere All at Once
Everything Everywhere All at Once is weird and funny and action-packed and heartfelt and beautiful and wonderful. I didn’t know what to expect when I watched it (had just heard positive buzz but had no real idea what it was about) and just wow. Truly a special film and the whole cast is outstanding.

Top Gun: Maverick
Considering I wasn’t fussed about the original Top Gun (it’s fine but I didn’t get the hype), I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed Top Gun: Maverick. I think one of the reasons I loved it so much is it’s part of my favourite subgenre of film – people being really competent at their jobs. It’s just so satisfying.

Confess, Fletch
I’m so pleased I got to see this film in the cinema. It’s proper old-school and charming in the best way. It’s a fun and clever mystery with a load of twists and a wonderful lead in Jon Hamm. I definitely think this favourite is probably the most underseen on this list.

The Banshees of Inisherin
I’m a big Martin McDonagh-fan so there was always a good chance I’d like his latest film but I really liked The Banshees of Inisherin. It’s funny and sad and kinda depressing at times – the dark humour is in full force – and the whole cast is incredible and I’d love for Colin Farrell, Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon to get all the awards.

Prey
I’m well-known for being a wuss but I can just about handle Predator movies and Prey is a fantastic prequel. The tension and scares are great and having it focused on a female tracker and how the “less-advanced” technology goes up against this alien creature was interesting and thrilling.

What were some of your favourite films of the past year?

REVIEW: Language Lessons (2021)

After his husband gifts him 100 Spanish lessons, Adam (Mark Duplass) and his teacher Cariño (Natalie Morales) form an unexpected friendship.

Gosh I love this film. I watched and loved half of it online at London Film Festival last year but missed the latter half due to a power cut so it’s been a long time coming for me to finally see the complete film and see if it was as good as I remembered. I’m very happy to find that it is indeed as sweet, funny, and touching as a remembered and seeing how Adam and Cariño’s relationship panned out was a joy.

During the pandemic there’s been a fair few “lockdown movies” whether that’s films where a group of people are stuck in the same place together for an extended period of time or it’s a story told via Zoom calls. Language Lessons fits into the second version but at the same time, it’s a story that never mentions the pandemic and it could’ve happened anytime as Adam lives in America while Cariño is in Costa Rica and they find connection via the Spanish lessons.

Language Lessons is shot entirely as if the characters are either on a Zoom call or are sending each other video messages and it’s a gimmick that really works. There are moments where the video quality isn’t great or it jumps a bit and that along with the script, co-written by the two stars, makes everything feel so natural. Considering you only see Adam and Cariño during these calls or messages, like the characters you’re left filling in the gaps of their lives and making assumptions based on the limited information given to you. With that, there’s a lot of surprises but none of them feel cheap or farfetched and instead you see different sides to the characters. Cariño especially is interesting as she struggles to keep the student/teacher boundary and when she does start to put that barrier back up, Adam starts to see through it.

Language Lessons is a film about platonic love and there are so few films that put the importance of friendship on an almost pedestal like this. Sure, there’s the teen films where there’s ride or die best friends but films about adults, and adults of different genders especially, and how their friendship works and matters to them aren’t that common.

At a swift 90 minutes, Language Lessons is a film that covers just about every facet of human emotion. It’s an incredibly poignant film and it’s the kind of film that mad me laugh and made me cry. It really is just a perfect gem of a movie. It’s both heart-breaking and heart-warming and both actors do a fantastic job at portraying this unconventional friendship. It’s one of those films I’ll be recommending to everyone and though it was sad at times, it also felt like a comforting hug because throughout it all both Adam and Cariño are both so incredibly kind and it’s the kind of story that gives you faith in human connection. 5/5.

Side note: With all the discussions about how no media is safe when it’s just available online and that physical media is the only way to make sure you have your favourite films, I wish I could get a physical copy of Language Lessons here in the UK. At the moment I’ll have to do with a digital copy as there doesn’t appear to be DVD/Blu-Ray available here and this is a film I will be revisiting.