A flamboyant English teacher (Clive Owen) and a new, stoic art teacher (Juliette Binoche) collide at an upscale prep school. 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. Written by
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.
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