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  • So great to have a movie adults can enjoy amidst a summer of cartoon plots & characters; a movie you can actually take your family to without being bombarded by violence, sex and f-bombs. I loved it. Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche as artists each struggling with demons that have crippled (in Binoche's case, literally) their creative abilities, deliver wonderful performances, as does the entire cast. The well-paced script rolls along at just the right pace, while giving us moments of pause to feel each character's pain and root for their ultimate triumph.

    You'd have to be pretty cynical to not like this movie. Could one pick it apart? As with any film, the answer is "sure." But why? Just go. Buy your popcorn and enjoy a really good-hearted film. The audience I saw it with (almost all over 40) was cheering at the end.
  • This is an honest movie that could be classified as a romantic comedy, but offers something more cerebral than that.

    Through its main protagonist, the witty but self-destructive Jack (who plays tennis in his lounge room when drunk) we see a glimpse of the kind of inspirational teacher from Dead Poets Society recast in the information age where students can answer any question by referring to their electronic devices, while never understanding the worth of the question in the first place.

    Don't let the love story fool you into thinking this is a chick flick. It's about appreciating the creation and expression of new ideas, neatly summed-up in the title: Words & Pictures.

    This movie pleasantly surprised me with its clever dialogue and wordplay, despite the boy-meets-girl, etc storyline. Well worth a look.
  • At a posh New England secondary school, with an ocean setting, English teacher Jack (Clive Owen) is in the midst of a middle age crisis. Only, he doesn't know it. Not yet. Others have observed that he drinks too much and is often a few minutes late to class, with poor lesson planning. To his credit, Jack is extremely dedicated and bright, making the most of his classes and connecting well with students. But, he is headed for trouble. That is, until a new art teacher, Dina (Juliette Binoche) arrives at the academy, cane in hand, for she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Needless to say, Jack rubs her the wrong way almost instantly, although it is quite clear that Dina can give tit for tat. After a discussion in her art honors class, students tell Jack that Dina thinks words are far less important and meaningful than pictures. Ho ho, Jack pounces on this pronto. Now, he tells his pupils, this is war and lays out a strong defense of the power of words by reading many meaningful passages of literature. An ultimate challenge of the two dueling forms of communication may lie ahead. In the meantime, Jack is told he is going to be "reviewed" by the board of directors and may be let go. He also is having difficulties with his college age son. Happily, Dina may be showing some romantic interest in Jack. What lies ahead in the battle of words and pictures? This wonderful and poignant movie is most welcome in this age of flicks aimed at young adult males. It offers a romance between middle aged characters and has an alluring, finely written script. Owen and Binoche are pitch perfect in their roles while the supporting cast of Bruce Davison, Amy Brenneman, and well-selected teenage actors are charming, too. The coastal setting is absolutely lovely while costumes, photography, and a worthy direction by Fred Schepisi bring terrific results. Please go support this movie, true-blue film fans. Unless you do, Hollywood won't offer this kind of movie very often.
  • There's great magic in Words and Pictures. And that magic comes from the sheer joy of watching a real human story so eloquently played out before our eyes. In a time when we are bombarded by CGI laden, tent pole films crafted by marketing firms rather than great storytellers, it is refreshing to find a summer film that focuses on character and the human condition. I loved this film and the emotional journey it takes us on. Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche are both at the top of their game in this film, giving us layered performances that are humorous, touching and yes… I'll use the word again… human. The greatest strength of this film is it's screenplay with it's honest look at relationships. The relationship between words and pictures becomes the vehicle by which we dive into all the emotional relationships. These are flawed and delicate characters making their way through the minefield of life. Fathers and sons, lovers, coworkers, mentors and mentees. All of the relationships play out so beautifully and honestly on screen. From our wonderful leads to even the smallest of supporting characters, not an emotive moment is wasted. Thank God there are films where great writing is still revered and producers, directors and actors who take a chance with those words and bring them to the screen in glorious moving pictures. Don't miss this one!
  • This film is recommended.

    There have been many philosophical arguments about the power of words and images. If one picture is worth a thousand words, and actions speak louder than words, who are we to disagree? In the battle of the sexes, the latest independent film, Words and Pictures, takes on this dispute in telling its love story about an English professor and an artist, both of whom have conflicting viewpoints on the subject and their budding courtship.

    Jack (Clive Owen) is an alcoholic academic who values the sacred text above all else. As fate would have it, he meets Dina (Juliette Binoche), an art teacher and painter whose rheumatoid arthritis is beginning to cripple her creative output. Both teach at an exclusive prep school. He teaches English, she teaches art, and it is their volatile relationship that is at the heart of this romantic film. One has lost that creative spark to alcohol, the other literally coming to grips with her own physical limitations. Each questions their own value and importance in a rivalry set between the schools based on the theoretical debate of words vs. pictures.

    Of course, they will fall in love. It's inevitable, isn't it? Predictable. Formulaic. Conventional. Clichéd. Those are some words that come to mind. Entertaining. Diverting. Enjoyable. Thought provoking. Those are some more words that succinctly describe Words and Pictures.  Fred Schepsi solidly directs the film and has wisely cast the central roles with actors who have enough presence and talent to make these characters more credible on the screen than from the written page. The preachy screenplay by Gerald Di Pego takes this interesting premise and expounds their differences ad nauseum. When the script stays true to the intellectual discourse, the film resonates. Unfortunately, it also adds some needless sub plots that go nowhere and just fill time. Some actors like Bruce Davidson and Amy Brenneman aren't given much to do and are wasted in minor roles.

    But the film eventually works solely due to the chemistry of Binoche and Owens. Owen's Jack has a disheveled charm and sexiness that makes him worthy of Dina's attention. His bouts with alcohol have a chilling realism and, a speech delivered to the end of the film to his estranged son is quite moving. Binoche has a wry and expressive persona that makes her character a noble and caring rival. Her talents not only as an actress but also as an abstract painter are showcased successfully throughout the film. These actors supply the sweetness and passion that is somehow lacking in the film's creaky plot and soap opera dynamics.

    At times, Words and Pictures tends to hyperventilate on its own words and storytelling. But one can readily accept this factor as the film tackles bigger issues and offers intellectual nourishment that mostly other films avoid. The film effectively emphasizes the importance of art and literature to us mere mortals. However it ultimately raises another philosophical question: Does music eclipse both as a more direct means of expression? Talk amongst yourselves, but go first see Words and Pictures as a hearty appetizer. GRADE: B

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  • It's a rare film that manages to be tedious and fascinating at the same time, but that's precisely what happens with the clumsily-named and executed Words And Pictures. The film's central conceit is right there in its title: a battle for supremacy unfolds between an English teacher (words) and his new colleague, who schools students in the fine arts (pictures). It shouldn't work at all, especially when the relationship moves predictably into romantic territory. But it's tough to completely dismiss the film when its awkward screenplay also features two intriguing central characters, played with subtle, almost miraculous depth by Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche.

    English teacher Jack Marcus (Owen) is on the brink of academic implosion: his job is on the line, he's barely making it to his classes on time, and he's drinking a little too much for anyone's comfort. But, just as things are looking really bleak, his downward trajectory is briefly interrupted by the arrival of Dina Delsanto (Binoche), a revered artist who's losing her ability to make art as her body is increasingly ravaged by the aches and pains of rheumatoid arthritis. She values imagery and art; he treasures words and literature - their clash fires up their students' imaginations, even as they bicker and spar their way into an evident mutual attraction.

    There's no denying that the film rests on an awkward foundation: the script keeps returning to the ridiculous dichotomy it establishes between words and pictures, pitting Marcus against Delsanto in a competition that makes very little sense. It's all tied up with a subplot involving shy arts student Emily (Valerie Tian), whose ability to come out of her shell to be the artist she can be is all wrapped up with issues of sexual harassment and public humiliation. Frankly, it's just not very good.

    What is very good about the film is its two central characters, and the spiky, difficult and joyfully equal relationship that springs up between them. There's so much depth, sadness and maturity layered into Marcus and Delsanto that it's absolutely fascinating just to watch them in action, together and apart. Both characters have rough edges that aren't sanded away, and the odd fireworks between them work precisely because both their lives have stalled: Marcus is a charming mess who lost himself somewhere along the way; Delsanto is a brilliant artist who can no longer express herself the way she wants to. Somehow, they wind up inspiring each other to do better and be better - and, instead of feeling horribly mawkish, it works.

    That's due in no small part to the excellent work done by the two lead actors. Owen sinks thoroughly into the part of Marcus, dialling up the charm and the horror of his character in equal measure. The film doesn't soften or romanticise Marcus and his problems, which gives Owen plenty of great character stuff to do. Binoche, too, has ample room to uncover the sad, yearning soul of a whip-smart, independent woman whose illness has stolen not just her art but also a little of her dignity.

    Ultimately, the fantastic and fascinating interplay between the two actors and characters are pretty much worth the price of admission. They're surrounded by an odd, awkward beast of a movie, built on a very shaky foundation. But their brave, deep performances and bittersweet chemistry come very close to making Words And Pictures worth a lot more than it really is.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Yes, Words and Pictures includes many of the clichés that typically populate both romance films and movies in which the lead characters are teachers, however such clichés do not necessarily render a film ineffective if the broader context of the story allows us to look beyond the obvious and appreciate what else is going on. In that regard, veteran Australian director Fred Schepisi has done a really good job in crafting a film that has many easily identifiable genre conventions, yet still has plenty to say on all manner of subject matter, including art, language, technology and the purpose of education. With accomplished performers such as Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche in the lead roles, this is a film that defies its rom-com leanings and becomes something much more intelligent. The narrative trajectory of the characters is most definitely predictable, but because we already know what is going to happen on that front, we can focus on other elements of the story, including questions raised about the value of words and images and notions of what defines a good teacher.

    Shot in Vancouver but set in a New England prep school, Words and Pictures is the story of two teachers with oppositional personalities and approaches to teaching who engage in a battle of wits that, inevitably, leads to romance. Binoche is new-teacher-in-town Dina Delsanto, an acclaimed artist battling rheumatoid arthritis, while Owen's Jack Marcus is the popular (with the students at least) English teacher with a drinking problem and a passion for language. Whilst the two present as polar opposites with regard to their teaching styles, they both have very high expectations of their students. Dina refuses to accept that a work of art being deemed " very good" by the masses is a satisfactory achievement and she demands that her students aim higher than that, particularly the talented Emily (Valerie Tian). Jack, meanwhile, is less interested in allocating formal grades than he is in inspiring students to use language in intelligent and creative ways to understand and appreciate the power and influence of words. The problem for Jack is that the school is losing patience with his unorthodox approach and his job is under threat; drunken run-ins around town doing little to curry favour with the school administration.

    Of course, the school board are more interested in image and reputation than they are student outcomes, so Jack sets out to convince the powers-that-be of his "worth" to the school, a value that has little to do with his ability as a teacher and more to do with restoring his tarnished reputation as a writer of some repute. Needless to say, Jack finds himself drawn to the reclusive Dina, who is struggling to come to terms with the impact her illness is having on her ability to paint. Whilst the two central characters are typical of all screen teachers – from Gabe Kotter to Erin Gruwell – in that they apparently only have one class, there is some honesty in the way they and the other teachers (which include Bruce Davison as Walt, Jack's only ally) are presented. The film explores what constitutes a good teacher: Does it matter if Jack is an alcoholic? Is being a nice person a requirement for being a good teacher? Does being a popular teacher make you any more, or less, effective in the classroom? Words and Pictures also serves as a celebration of both the visual and language arts and explores the influence of technology on young people, with Jack's witty and impassioned rants bemoaning social media proving particularly amusing.

    Owen embodies Jack as a blowhard fighting a losing battle against both the system and his own self-loathing, while Dina has little desire to ingratiate herself with her students or other faculty members. The chemistry between Owen and Binoche is terrific and, despite the somewhat cantankerous personalities of their characters, these are two teachers that any school would be lucky to have. With several subplots thrown into the mix, such as Jack's strained relationship with his son Tony (Christian Scheider, son of Roy, in his screen debut) and the cruel harassment directed at Emily by a boorish male student, there is enough going on to make Words and Pictures a cut above the warm and fuzzy fluff that saturates so many romance narratives. Yes, of course it ends pretty much how we expect, but with good performances and characters that are multi-layered, Schepisi has managed to create a genre piece that, unlike so many others, is both entertaining and intelligent.
  • I almost opted out of seeing Words and Pictures but I'm very happy that I saw it. The movie is about a high school English teacher who was once an acclaimed publisher but lost his creativity because he thinks it's not appreciated by his students and drowns his sorrows in alcohol. He is played by Clive Owen who performed brilliantly. He intersects with a new world renowned Art teacher played by Juliette Binoche who is struggling to maintain her ability to create due to a debilitating medical condition which physically prevented her from painting with fine strokes. Juliette Binoche transforms amazingly and performs well. I didn't even recognize her as the actress that played Vianne in Chocolat which I loved her in and Hana the nurse in The English Patient. In their dual over their passions of words and pictures, they end up challenging each other and their students and movie goers alike to appreciate and desire to create beauty using words and art. After watching Belle and a slew of other movies set around Victorian Era England, I noted that our conversational language has become so simple when there are so many beautiful words available to us. This movie echoes that sentiment. I expected Words and Pictures to be an overly artsy romantic love story but it was balanced. There are two things I didn't like about this movie. The first is that we aren't given the back story of the main characters. The characters even acknowledge they don't know a lot about each other but they are satisfied with it and I guess movie goers were supposed to be OK with it as well. The second is that besides reciting other people's words, Clive Owen's character doesn't say much of his own words that conveys his whole premise about words. I kept waiting for this great prose from him, but never got it. Overall the movie is entertaining and inspiring and I recommend you go see it.
  • "A picture is worth a thousand words." Jack Marcus (Owen) is an English teacher that has a slight alcohol problem and is in danger of losing his job. The school hires Dina Delsanto (Binoche) a famous artist that has her own struggles she is dealing with to teach art. What starts off as a harmless comment about words being lies soon becomes a war between words and pictures. The teachers drag their students into the battle which end up helping everyone involved. This is a perfect example of don't judge a book (or in this case movie) by its cover. Going in I was expecting a cheesy romantic comedy that has been done over and over. While this did have the romance aspect this dealt much more with education. Clive Owen plays a teacher that the kids love but the administration hates. He does things his own way and actually gets through to the kids. Binoche's character is angry at having to teach but still makes a connection with the students. The movie is a back and forth argument over which has more power words or pictures with great arguments for both sides. This movie has the type of educational influence that movies along the lines of Dead Poet's Society or Mr. Holland's Opus has. This is a huge surprise of a movie that I just can not say enough about. One of the better movies of the year and I highly recommend this. Overall, if you like inspirational movies about education then check this out. I loved it. I give this an A-.
  • Words and Pictures (2013) was directed by Fred Schepisi. It stars Juliette Binoche as Dina Delsanto, a brilliant painter who is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Clive Owen portrays Jack Marcus, a published poet who is suffering from alcoholism. Of course they meet, engage in intellectual battles, are attracted to each, and have a horrendous rending of their relationship.

    All of this action takes place at a private school in New England, with subplots involving cyber bullying, the real possibility of Jack being fired from his job, Jack's relationship with his son, and both teachers' interactions with their students.

    The film is predictable and formulaic, but it still worked for me because of the brilliant acting of Juliette Binoche. We've seen painters at work in other films, but in this movie, there's a real artist at work. (Binoche is, herself, an artist, and the art she's making in the film is her own art.) Most important to me is that we get to see the serious effects of rheumatoid arthritis on someone's life. Most sick people are portrayed in movies as either at death's door, or just mildly impaired. (If they have rheumatoid arthritis, they use a cane and limp a little.) Not so in this film--Binoche has a serious handicapping condition, and it's interfering with her life and her art.

    This movie will work better on the large screen, mainly because the art will be more impressive if seen in a theater. Even so, it will work well enough on the small screen. It's worth seeing, Not a great film, but an intelligent and enjoyable one.
  • Searching, in all aspects of their lives, for those with "fire in the belly" and expressions and lives that are meaningful, Dina (Juliette Binoche) and Jack (Clive Owen) do not suffer fools gladly. Dina, also known as the "Icicle," is the new art teacher rumored to have caned a student in New York. She is struggling, physically and mentally, to overcome a disability as well as the loss of a spouse. Jack, irascible and usually drunk, is an English teacher with his job, family and life on the line due to his drinking and drought in the publishing department. The two loose cannons, headstrong and determined in their ways, are entwined in a jovial workplace argument over the primacy of words and pictures. Both Dina and Jack struggle to reawaken desire and hope in themselves as well as their students. They have each other to look to, for better and worse. Binoche and Owen are, of course, wonderful and charming in their roles. Their romance has chemistry. It is a worthwhile film just to see how Binoche transitions from Paris to rural Maine (and she does so deftly and with panache). Weighed down a bit by awkward student actor performances, the words and pictures battle is never the less intriguing, and the film as a whole is absorbing and delightful. Seen at the 2014 Miami International Film Festival.
  • Words and Pictures (2013)

    If you, like me, missed the fact this movie existed at all, despite having two great actors (two of my favorites), then give this a read, and a look. This is a terrific movie. It's funny, bright, and touching. It does veer into a bit of a cliché about high school life and romance, but manages to keep it real, or if not quite "real" at least pungent. Worthy.

    Yeah, a surprise excellent warm flick. See it.

    Clive Owen is at first the lead, a crackling spitfire of an English teacher, the kind we all want. Informed, challenging, funny. In this elite high school he fits in well. Except with other teachers who find him abrasive and cocky.

    Juliette Binoche is the other lead, and she takes on increasing importance teaching art, and being an artist. Her unusual (uncanny) ability to be stern, sad, tormented and also happy to the point of sincere joy and laughter is amazing. She is given less to work with than Owen (Owen's character has a son and the threat of losing his job while Binoche's character just teaches art exceedingly well) but she makes her presence as important and stunning.

    The two would seem fated to fall in love and such and such, but you'll have to see about that. In fact, they have amazing chemistry as colleagues and then friends on screen, but not romantically.

    The title refers to a kind of playful battle in the school between word and images. The students get energized, the two teachers take sides. It's fun, but in a way it's all a sideshow to Owen and Binoche in their personal issues and growth and failure. It's hard to make clear that this is a movie about two people who happen to be teachers, and it's about how they come to terms with their different issues: Owen the alcoholic and Binoche suffering with severe arthritis. The writing crackles, the acting is on fire, and the plot goes along for the ride.

    A joyous surprise.
  • Gerald Di Pego's script for WORDS AND PICTURES deserves to be published as a book, so sensitive are his musings about art and literature. This film is filled with some unforgettable thoughts that should challenge teachers of writing and art and their students as well.

    Fred Schepisi directs this lovely little film with restraint and sensitivity, allowing the brilliance of the performances by Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen to shine. Though the school kids are a bit cookie cutter and thwart the momentum of the film at times, the overall response is one of pure pleasure in the drive of the story.

    A flamboyant English teacher Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) and a new, stoic art teacher Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche) collide at an upscale prep school in Maine. A high-spirited courtship begins and she finds herself enjoying the battle. Another battle they begin has the students trying to prove which is more powerful, the word or the picture. But the true war is against their own demons, as two troubled souls struggle for connection – Jack is a chronic alcoholic who has distanced his son and Dina is an artist hampered by the insidious progression of her Rheumatoid Arthritis. The banter of battle is one of words in a game that is fascinating to all: the tenderness of their mutual needs sculpts the poetry of the script. Superb acting, excellent script, Oscar deserving recognition for many concerned in this refreshingly nuanced film. See it and memorize it.
  • Plot

    Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) is an honors English teacher for an elite high school who is also loud and arrogant and somewhat self-destructive as a high-functioning alcoholic which has made him a problem with the school's management and it looks like he might lose his job if things don't turn around quickly. He is obsessed with words, but ironically he hasn't written a word in six years. Being a published author initially got him his teaching position, yet now it looks like it is publish or perish. Meanwhile Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche), a well-known painter, becomes the new art teacher at Marcus's school. She is standoffish to everyone she meets because she is unpleased in how life has treated her. A medical condition known as rheumatoid arthritis has left her hands all but useless and this has made it extremely difficult to paint at all, let alone paint in the manner that she is used to. Overhearing how Delsanto believes words play second fiddle to pictures Marcus starts a competition to vastly prove that words have no equal.

    Character Development

    While Jack is trying to overcome internal struggles, Dina is overcoming the external ones. This conflict continues throughout the entire film as the battle ensues between words and pictures. This is a very detailed accounting that spans many degrees of emotions and travels over some very rich storytelling. There was a great deal of world building here with the development of this professional artist and her classroom of amateur artists and this dovetailed into the character quite nicely.


    The cast did a brilliant job with the script. Everyone seemed to play their part well down to the smallest role. Valerie Tian who played Emily came off very credible in her role as a high school student and Bruce Davison who played Walt came across as an honestly warm friend that Jack could confide in. I believed that the players here could be mistaken for the genuine article if given half the chance. The production went that extra mile for that authenticity.


    There are quite a few of unpleasant moments in this film so it is really not for the light of heart. I remembered a different spin of things when I recall the story from the trailer. That being said the performances were lovely and the production was grand with all the artwork. It moved about with a steady meter and only paused when it was needed. The story was interesting enough with the flare that this script should have been tried before; certainly the title seems familiar in its presentation. But I know a filmmaker would probably say that they include both words and pictures in their art form. Twenty-four pictures for every second of film projected on screen, yet they have to trim the words on the page for lack of time. Still the script here made an attempt to cut the difference down the middle. Well, mostly.
  • A very entertaining movie but a rather simple and predictable story! Director Fred Schepisi and writer Gerald Di Pego have included - and very cleverly so - two conflicting characters that come to cross purposes and these same two characters must deal not only with the other but also with their personal internal demons.

    Here is a story about a clash that involves passion and intellect. Clive Owen as Jack Marcus 'English teacher' is very passionate about the written word and it's effect on the human mind and soul. Juliette Binoche as Dina Delsanto 'Art teacher' is equally passionate about the fine arts and it's effect on the human mind and soul. And so an unofficial challenge develops between these two teachers - which has the greater influence on people - 'words or pictures'. Both teachers compete to be the winner but both teachers must overcome their internal conflicts at the same time. Jack is an alcoholic and Dina suffers advanced rheumatoid arthritis. The fight is on both externally, with the help of the students, and the fight within themselves which accentuates the teachers individual aloneness in this world.

    In my opinion Director Schepisi blew his chance to make a truly profound story by not expanding on the one pivotal moment in the story. That moment is when Jack falls onto the still wet painting Dina considered her greatest work! Here is the moment where words and pictures become one! No one can describe a picture and it's effect without words and words can only be comprehended by seeing in ones mind pictures which has an effect on the soul.

    Instead the director turns the story into a therapy session for a rather insecure girl and Jack finally deciding to seek help for his alcohol addiction. In the end all is sunshine and springtime which ruined the movie for me. Had Dina been a more insightful artist she would have taken advantage of the 'damage' to her painting by working with it. And Jack would have written a poem or something about the how damaging ourselves also damages others around us. Thus words and pictures are but one.
  • I'd give it a 9.5, if that were possible, because nothing is perfect. That point, among others, is brought home quite sincerely and wittily in this gem of a picture, which reminds us that expressing a first principle or truth well depends first upon understanding it. To understand demands courage, for it often requires that one give up habits and hubris and all manner of other self-defensiveness. Our protagonists are teachers who have set the bar high for themselves and for their students. Both battle letting that bar collapse. As the literature teacher and the art teacher, respectively, Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche are more than solidly believable in their roles. They are nuanced and brave, offering up a complexity reminiscent of Tracy and Hepburn. Other reviewers have said as much as needs be said, and I feel no need to reiterate. Read all the opinions, if you wish; but if after a few you don't want immediately to see this movie, pouring over the remaining reviews will likely be a waste of your time. Words and Pictures resonates like a feather floating on a still lake limned by the first light of the moon. How Jack Marcus would take me to task for that line--and how Dina Delsanto would muse while he did it!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Here's a nice little romantic drama. Clive Owen teaches English, but his character has a major flaw. Juliette Binoche teaches Art, but her character has a major condition. Will they overcome all and get together? Don't you think.

    The movie is a bit long and somewhat oversimplified. If certain addictions were that easy to shake more people would do it.

    The ultimate battle between which is more important words or pictures is answered by the fact that this is a motion picture and not a book.

    The acting is convincing. Juliette Binoche wins the acting battle. It is noteworthy she is given credit for the paintings in the movie.

    A light score and good locations add to the enjoyment. If your looking for a small oasis from big budget explosions this little movie works. It has limited release and doesn't need to be seen in a theater as it will play well at home.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I love Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche, so it was with great disappointment that I saw this imitation of someone's idea of a movie run on endlessly without merit, point, purpose, reason or destination.

    I'm not quite sure where to start. The concept? Why would anyone get involved over the merits of words versus pictures? Something that is written, something that is painted... they are their own unique art forms. Why would anyone, especially someone as smart as Juliette Binoche, in real life, and as her character Dina Delsanto, engage in the bizarre tit-for-tat war manufactured by Clive Owen's Jack Marcus? She wouldn't. And more importantly, as this imitation movie unfolds, Clive's character, an in-denial raging alcoholic/blocked writer, harasses her and, more disturbingly, stalks her. Any woman in her right mind would have this irritant fired from the school and arrested. But no, she ends up allowing him to seduce her. Her apparent excuse is that she has rheumatoid arthritis and she doesn't know if each time she has sex will be the last time. So, in a way, she only did it for the pleasure of having sex, which I can't fault her for, but why with such a painfully obvious loser?

    The film tosses us to and from between the worlds of Jack, an honors English teacher and Dina, an honors art teacher. Jack is obviously enamored of every word he says and thinks he's a great teacher, but he can't show up on time and he is so behind on grading papers that one of his students intelligently challenges him when he asks the class to do an assignment, pointing out that she needs to take his honors English class in order to get into university, and yet he hasn't bothered to grade the last three assignments. To this Jack barks at her do another assignment. Huh? On what basis? I'd complain to the principal and Jack would be either shamed into providing the grades, reprimanded, or dismissed.

    Dina, on the other hand, comes to the school with a chip on her shoulder as she struggles with rheumatoid arthritis. She's called "Ms. Icicle" -- and Juliette obviously put in time researching her role as someone struggling with a physical disability. I liked her because I felt she was real. Jack, on the other hand, was so repulsive that I didn't care if he walked into oncoming traffic.

    Also, the film tries to weave into two "B' stories, only one of which might be helpful. Jack has a young son who is apparently a runner or cyclist, based on his choice of attire. The fact that he is also a writer (or was) gets short shrift... but that piece of information will come back to haunt all who watch this questionable endeavor. The son, bright and sober, attempts to engage Jack in conversation and to set up a time for Jack to meet the son's girlfriend. But Jack is too interested in feeling sorry for himself, drinking, smashing things in his house, and harassing people with stupid word games in which he challenges people to keep expanding on the number of syllables in a word. Again... the point?

    The other "B" story involves "Emily," played by Valerie Tian. Valerie has a very pretty, open, honest face. She doesn't seem to have a lot of expressions, but she has potential to be a good, if not a great, actress. In this film she plays a student who is unmercifully stalked by a fellow classmate who is madly in love with her. She doesn't share his feelings. He apparently draws an unflattering picture of her (which was impossible to make out, so I could not determine what the hysterical hubbub was about) which he posts on the Internet. Emily eventually turns to Dina for support, and Dina gives it to her in the only way she knows how: bluntly, cruelly and honestly. Okay, all that's great, but this is ANOTHER movie. This "B" story is woven throughout almost the entire film, wears thin quickly and does not in anyway enhance the main story.

    As we draw towards it's trumpeted and obvious conclusion, all I could think was "Jack Marcus" was a delusional alcoholic stalker who might have had a gift for writing at one time (this last point is debated endlessly throughout the film), but... so what? So what that he had a gift? So what that his wife left him? The school board overlooks so much of his behavior that it is really a slap in the face to anyone intelligent.

    The movie goes on way too long, and during the entire time I didn't feel a single emotion for anyone, although I initially could feel the depth of Juliette's character because of her extensive acting gifts.

    But since I felt the initial premise was essentially a bad joke, and since Clive's character was so mean, delusional, cruel and selfish, I could not find a single reason to invest in anybody in this film.

    There were times that I was distinctly aware of the camera, of the camera angles, of all the work involved in making this a film... and yet... where was the magic? I should have been transported; instead I kept being yanked from the Jack train to the Dina train to the Emily train. I was so black and blue after two hours that I had to put the movie out of my mind for two days before I could comment on it.

    Overall a questionable endeavor that wastes a lot of time and talent and resources and doesn't present an argument worth addressing.
  • Starts off with a great premise and excellent dialogue throughout, but the story falters 2/3rds of the way through with the art vs. words contention going completely one sided given the exemplars. The tête-à-tête between Owen, Binoche, and to a degree, their students, was the centerpiece of the film. But the alcoholism was a distraction and not necessary to the story. I was amazed at what they were holding up as "fine" art. Her creations were executed with brushes of ever increasing sizes until she was using a mop suspended from the ceiling. The masterpiece (?) and the two panels at the end were the most recent examples of an emperor having no clothes. 7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    For most of the 1 1/2 hours of this film I couldn't stand it. Then the story starts concentrating on the two main characters and it becomes worthwhile. By now you get the general picture-two teachers in a New England prep school (Located somewhere in British Columbia) find it worthwhile to set up a school-wide competition between spoken word and visual art, and that tension sparks a surge of creativity in the school and a relationship between the two teachers. Unfortunately, even with two good actors in the lead roles, things don't really start to happen until the film is about 2/3 over, when the art teacher. played by Juliette Binoche, reveals a new painting, an abstract, that blows away the competition. But getting to that point requires a slog through overstated, unbelievable interactions between teacher and student and student-student. Example: the best art student, an Asian-American girl, is constantly hassled by a privileged, tone-deaf young man who makes a complete ass of himself essentially stalking her on campus every day, and at the top of his lungs. The young woman is shy and lacks self-confidence, but skilled enough to draw the attention of the art teacher. Her tormentor is obnoxious enough to be spotted from a police helicopter, and yet never seems to come to the attention of the faculty or administration until he does something truly unforgivable. By the same token, the Asian-American artist, supposedly shy and un-self-confident, is quite able to tell him off loudly and in public more than once during the film. The unconvincing subplots kept the whole film at arm's length for me until the two main characters started to click.
  • Greatness is the only word that fits to describe such an underrated masterpiece. Thanks to everyone who participated in this marvellous film
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche are excellent actors, even when given clichéd and mundane scripts, such as this one. "Words and Pictures" begins with an interesting concept, what speaks better: words or pictures? Clive Owen plays an English honors teacher who, in his private life, struggles with alcohol and a relationship with his son. Juliette Binoche plays a well renounced artist battling a disease that makes it hard for her to use certain techniques when painting and has landed herself as an Arts honor teacher. The chemistry between the two is pretty believable. And there are moments when the two show off their fine acting skills, because quite frankly they are what lead the story. Director Fred Schepisi lacks the talent he had when directing romantic comedies such as "Roxanne," and Gerald Di Pego once again shows that he has yet to improve on his writing. What starts out as a great premise ultimately gets muddled by unnecessary aspects. The acting of the students is honestly very corny. The audience has no sympathy for them what so ever. Though the audience gets a few laughs in, the story is just not thought out well enough to achieve what it wants.
  • The movie had more potential that it actually used but for the presentation of the arguments for words and for pictures alone it deserves respect and interest. It is nice to see a film that actually cares about art, its different forms, faces and shapes, and, at least, tries to engage the viewer in the subject. Yes, the theme of the "wonder-boys" on the crossroads that hit the dry spell and can't get themselves out of the writers' block has been done much better in the well.. "Wonder boys". Yes, the tormented artist struggling to overcome physical disability is also familiar subject and no one ever will be able to over-shine D.D.Lewis in 'My Left Foot". So, what? This movie, even if it comes in the end to the rom-com territory, still raises the interesting questions beyond the rom-com genre and leaves pleasant enough impression and afterthought. Kudos to the Brit, Clive Owens and to the French, Juliette Binoche for being so natural as the intelligent Americans dedicated their lives to the art of words and images.
  • Not a standard story of normaal poepie with ab-normal problems. Great movie!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It is a movie where you take your family to watch without having to worry about scenes of violence, sex, etc. Clive and Juliette as artists, each have a passion and each fight with the demons that they acquired. Dina thinks that words are much less important and meaningful than the images. Jack marcus is a ex literary star who battles to keep his job as an english professor in a preparatory school. When Dina Delsanto, a painter and teacher of abstract art, arrives at campus and makes jack's love for dina as well as for art, reinvigorate. With the performance evaluation getting close, jack has the idea of having a competition between his students and dina, a battle of words and images, which he hopes inspires the kids and saves his job.
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