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The Way We Speak

By Alan Ng | April 5, 2024

The idea of “feeling seen” in culture and society today has been a hotbed issue, especially considering it’s not complicated. In Ian Ebright’s feature film The Way We Speak, we discover that feeling seen is just as difficult as listening to others.

Simon (Patrick Fabian) is a renowned essayist who has arrived in town for a competition—a debate if you will. Along with him is his cancer-stricken wife, Claire (Diana Coconubo), a prominent physician who is here to support Simon. Simon’s opponent is his good friend George (Ricco DiStefano). The debate takes place over several days, and the winner receives a hefty prize in cash and notoriety.

Sadly, George suffers a heart attack and passes away. In honor of his good friend and to step back into the spotlight, Simon insists that the debate proceeds. The organizers can only find Sarah (Kailey Rhodes), a bestselling Christian author. The topic of the debate is the existence or absence of God.

As the debate progresses, Simon is intent on winning—mainly for the fame. For much of his marriage, he’s lived in the shadow of his wife, and with her cancer, this is Simon’s chance to step forward. During the debate, Simon’s take-no-prisoners approach does him no favors, as most of his “points” turn into personal attacks on Sarah.

“The debate takes place over several days…The topic of the debate is the existence or absence of God.”

In case you’re thinking what I’m thinking about The Way We Speak…no, this isn’t yet another installment of the God’s Not Dead franchise. The film is less about proving God’s existence and more about today’s cultural discourse that divides our nation. In this case, the division is between the religious and the atheist.

The story centers on Simon, who is so focused on winning the debate and the accompanying accolades that he pushes away everyone around him, particularly Claire. The Way We Speak asks us to consider whether the cost of winning a debate is worth becoming a person we abhor.

The heart of our story is Patrick Fabian and Diana Coconubo as the married couple Simon and Claire. Fabian takes up the challenge of playing an unappealing character, while Coconubo’s charm and understanding help to soften his rough edges. Fabian is incredibly convincing in his portrayal of an unlikable character, and by widening the gap between the couple, Ian Ebright’s script explores this idea of being heard and feeling seen in a way that speaks to all of us.

I always enjoy a lively discussion about the existence of God. However, The Way We Speak emphasizes the importance of how we communicate, especially with those we disagree with. In today’s world, we are often encouraged to build walls and shut ourselves off from others. But, if we genuinely want to find peace and understanding, we must learn to sit down and listen to each other. We must realize that we all face struggles in life and that we are not so different from one another after all.

The Way We Speak (2024)

Directed and Written: Ian Ebright

Starring: Patrick Fabian, Diana Coconubo, Kailey Rhodes, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

The Way We Speak Image

"…we must learn to sit down and listen to each other."

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