Film Words and Pictures plays out artistic debate

Clive Owen plays an English professor to Juliette Binoche’s art teacher in Words and Pictures.  - TIFF.net
Clive Owen plays an English professor to Juliette Binoche’s art teacher in Words and Pictures.
— image credit: TIFF.net

The second film in the Vernon Film Society’s summer series is Words and Pictures.

It stars well known actors Clive Owen (Children of Men, Croupier) as Jack Marcus and Juliette Binoche (Chocolat,The English Patient) as Dina Delsanto. The action takes place in a prep school and is directed by veteran director Fred Schepisi (Six Degrees of Separation, Last Orders).

Both Owen and Binoche play teachers –he a one time literary star who has not published in years, estranged from his son and battling alcoholism; she formerly a celebrated abstract painter whose severe arthritis derailed her career.

Owen faces a performance review and his job is on the line when he comes upon an inspired method of galvanizing students by declaring a war between words and pictures.

Dina and her art students accept the challenge from Jack and his English students. He is confident words can convey greater meaning than pictures and the battles begin.

The witty script by Gerald DiPego brings a balance of lightness and gravity to this unusually intelligent romantic comedy.

Owen and Binoche, meanwhile, are as charismatic and complex as ever, playing two hard headed, fiercely intelligent and passionate people whose abundant and personal troubles have not yet crushed their competitive drive. Yet even as the war between Jack and Dina escalates, it becomes clear that this particular battle will not be so much about individual victory as about collective triumph.

Some critics have commented the movie has faint echoes of the Spencer Tracy–Katherine Hepburn movies with their banter and wit.

“Owen and Binoche sparkle, while never losing grasp of the headstrong qualities that make their characters dedicated and formidable opponents on the philosophical question at the movie’s core: is a picture really worth a thousand words?” said Brent Simon, with Paste Magazine.

Words and Pictures screens at the Towne Cinema in downtown Vernon Monday at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $7 (cash only), available one week in advance at the theatre and the Bean Scene, as well as at the door.



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