Nice Talking To You

The short film, Nice Talking To You, opens in a New York art studio where a poetry reading takes place at an American Sign Language (ASL) event. As the guests are mingling, the room is quiet as the party-goers are signing with one another. A young woman, Zaib (Bane Fakih), is at the party hoping to meet someone interesting when she sees the event photographer Ollie (Colin Bates) taking pictures of the gathering.

As the reading concludes, Ollie takes a photo of the group and at the end asks for one final picture with everyone’s eyes closed. Everyone follows except Zaib. When the party ends, she heads to the back room and starts a flirty conversation with Ollie as he’s packing up his equipment. There’s a lot of negging between them, a little awkwardness, a misunderstanding, and the two go their separate ways.

While at the subway station, the two spot one another across the platform. Zaib signs to Ollie across the way indirectly hoping she could take a swig from his water bottle. The conversation is interrupted by an oncoming train. Thinking he left, Ollie suddenly appears behind her with the bottle of water, and their relationship commences.

“There’s a lot of negging between them, a little awkwardness, a misunderstanding, and the two go their separate ways.”

Together, the two walk toward Ollie’s apartment. There’s a shot of the two conversing as Ollie is inside the coffee shop, and Zaib is outside. You see her reflection in the window as she’s signing to him. They bond over the fact that he likes taking pictures of his subjects with their eyes closed and she likes wearing her shoes unlaced. They discover they do this for similar reasons. And their relationship deepens.

We witness a burgeoning romance between two random strangers with ASL as their language. If I said the signing was beautiful, it might sound patronizing, but it really is, making an intriguing love story leading to a complicated conclusion.

Saim Sadiq’s Nice Talking To You brings a little something special to the romantic short, signing aside, the couple also has a few cross-cultural differences, and the romance is not sweet and mushy, but somewhat aggressive to one another, which works and will carry you to the 19-minute finish line.

Nice Talking To You (2019). Directed by Saim Sadiq. Written by Saim Sadiq, Joseph Capotorto. Starring Bane Fakih, Colin Bates. Nice Talking To You screened at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

8 out of 10 stars

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