Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche Wage an Artistic War in ‘Words and Pictures’

Tara Taghizadeh

 

Words and Pictures

Director: Fred Schepisi

2 Stars (out of 4)

 

Set against a beautiful backdrop of East Coast country splendor, Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) and Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche) are talented, middle-aged teachers at a prestigious prep school. Jack is a longtime employee at the school, a jaded alcoholic author with remote ties to his son, who is bored with teaching and the predictable ambitions of his students. Dina is a brilliant and lauded painter who has newly arrived to teach art.

 

There is an instant connection between the two, which results in immediate sparring and a war of words (and pictures). Jack claims that words are more powerful than images, while Dina repeats the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. They both set out to prove the other wrong.

 

 

While the tug-of-war between art versus language serves as a backdrop for the film, the real story is Jack’s tenure as teacher and the danger he faces from the board for losing his job. There are teachers and administrators who side with him and praise his teaching skills, and those who would rather see him go. In the midst of his midlife crisis and his continuous efforts to combat alcoholism, we witness a budding (and surprising) romance between him and Dina.

 

Fred Schepisi’s film is charming and entertaining enough, but the twists and turns are rather predictable. The script would have benefited from an edit. And as good as Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche are in the lead roles, the writing doesn’t do the actors justice. The minor characters aren’t as well-developed as they should be, either; therefore, Owen and Binoche carry the weight of the entire film.

 

 

In the end, Words and Pictures is more a light romance than a thought-provoking project about the merits of literature and art, which is perhaps what the studio had in mind given its summer release in theatres.

 

Author Bio:

Tara Taghizadeh is the founding editor and publisher of Highbrow Magazine.

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