Star Power Triumphs
Words and Pictures has weak story but terrific performances by Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche.
Rated PG-13, 111 min. Directed by Fred Schepisi. Starring Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, Valerie Tian, Bruce Davison, Amy Brenneman, Navid Negahban, Adam DiMarco, Christian Scheider.
The story of Words and Pictures is rather creaky, but who cares when the actors Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche are so sublime together? Even though the film creates an artificial construct that rings hollow, the two central characters generate great heat and interest. Their presence is enough to keep the film’s nattering foolishness at bay.
Jack Marcus (Owen) teaches honors English at a private prep school. Many years ago, he wrote a great novel, but he hasn’t produced anything since – unless you count the student literary magazine. The students adore him, but the faculty know him as a dyspeptic alcoholic, prone to mental games and embarrassing public displays. Just at the point that Jack’s hanging onto his job by his fingernails, in walks the new art teacher Dina Delsanto (Binoche). Dina, too, is caustic and abrasive, but her bad humor stems from the arthritis that hampers her movement and causes great pain. She is a painter who can no longer use the conventional tools of her trade, and, glumly, latches on to this teaching job.
Amidst all the words and pictures, Jack and Dina form a tentative bond, which is then tested in the harsh light of day. Despite a somewhat dodgy accent, Owen unleashes great charm as his own worst enemy and a man whom no one can fully despise. Binoche utterly enthralls as a “difficult” woman who comes with a barbed tongue and a failing body. One wonders if their pillow talk contains more words or pictures.
Words and Pictures is now showing at the Oriental Theater.
Words and Pictures – Official Trailer