A tenderly offbeat comedy about love and communication... or the lack thereof.
Written and directed by Tim Plester (the creator of acclaimed shorts 'ANT MUZAK', BLAKE¹S JUNCTION 7 and WORLD OF WRESTLING), and featuring sparkling music by singer/songwriter Barbarossa, ENGLISH LANGUAGE (WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES) stars Tim Plester (MAGICIANS), MyAnna Buring (THE DESCENT) and Craig Parkinson (CONTROL).
Meet Mulligan (a typically English man), Esther (his Scandinavian girlfriend), and the on-screen subtitles that find themselves along for the ride.
One Saturday afternoon, back in the late late 20th Century, I sat myself down in the oldest Repertory Cinema in the world, and watched the late Krzysztof Kieslowski’s THREE COLOURS TRILOGY back-to-back. The experience of that afternoon inspired me, in part, to begin writing what would become the short film ENGLISH LANGUAGE (WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES). Along the way I gained further inspiration from the odd flirtation with the "subtitles for the hearing-impaired" option (now made available to all by the DVD-generation), and from a trip to a short film festival in Upsalla, Sweden - where I became fascinated by the concept of the hometown multi-lingual audience reading the Swedish subtitles to English language films, despite having a perfect understanding of the original English words being spoken by the actors on screen. The failure of at least three relationships have also found their way into the mix somewhere.
Shot in sparsely elegant black-and-white, and influenced by the sensibilities of Jim Jarmusch, Adrian Tomine, Richard Brautigan, Raymond Carver, Haruki Murakami, P.T. Anderson and vintage Woody Allen, my primary aim with this offbeat romantic comedy is to try and tell an intelligent and quirky contemporary love story. A contemporary love story with a distinctly British flavour, yes, but one which doesn't hide behind the usual national British armour of cynicism and/or irony. A contemporary love story that will hopefully put a wry smile on people’s faces, whilst simultaneously tugging ever-so-gently at their heartstrings. Set against the backdrop of a rarely filmed area of commuter-belt North London, ENGLISH LANGUAGE (WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES) is concerned with ideas of communication... or the lack thereof. On a very basic level, it’s a story about the break-up and potential mending-back-together of a relationship between a typically English man and his oh-so-Scandinavian girlfriend. Yes, it's a little slight perhaps, but that's entirely intentional. Its slightness is kind of the point. Its slightness is, I hope, all part of its charm. With ENGLISH LANGUAGE (WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES) I'm interested in breaking the skin of a situation rather than completing a full autopsy. I've deliberately left tees uncrossed and eyes undotted. Eschewing any temptation for internal voice-over, the film is instead shot through with unfinished sentences, inadequate gestures and paralysingly pregnant silences.
The spoken words that the characters do manage to vocalise do not always respond to the subtitles that accompany them on screen. Aye, and there's the rub! For whilst there will undoubtedly be occasions in which the subtitles act like supportive scaffolding to what is being said on screen, there will be other occasions when they will be used to disarm or to consciously juxtapose or obfuscate matters entirely. Sometimes the subtitles may reveal subtext. Sometimes they may paraphrase. Sometimes a particular situation may simply render the use of subtitles entirely unnecessary and/or irrelevant. For like the characters in the film, the subtitles don't necessarily have all the answers. The subtitles, like the film’s characters, can't necessarily see the "bigger" picture. Like it or not, they're just along for the ride.
TIM PLESTER (Writer/Director)