In theatres this Friday from director Fred Schepisi and Roadside Attractions comes the debate about life, love and all through WORDS AND PICTURES.
This film tells the story of Jack Marcus (Clive Owen), a bored English high school teacher and poet who doesn’t devote any time to students but rather excessive drinking. Alienated from his son and most people, Jack is always looking for new challenges. His newest is to keep his job as school administrator Elspeth (Amy Brenneman) puts his job on the line.
In walks Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche), an English teacher with a sharp wit and a disability. Instantly Jack is drawn to her because she has no problem sparring with her straight forwardness and, at the same time, emotional walls.
A debate ensues between them as to whether people are moved by words or by pictures. Sparks fly for Jack as he involves his students who respond with a fervor he had long forgotten possible.
Jack also finds himself drawn to Dina but when both are fighting personal demons it’s hard to make room for someone else!
FINAL WORD: Owen as Marcus has just mastered the art of a man lost. Watching him verbally go after people to find something to hang on to was very sad yet intriguing to watch. Of course the sparring with people was a sight to see but at the same time it becomes clear why people avoid him. This performance by Owen is just beautifully done.
Binoche as Delsanto takes on such a tough issue. Having such a disability is relatable to so many who will see this film. Watching Delsanto continue to strengthen the walls to keep people out and then reexamining how to tear them down again Binoche does cleverly and with style. Her wit and snappy come backs are smart and hilarious at the same time.
Brenneman as Elspeth has a small role in the film but makes her presence known. Egging Owen’s character to change his ways is like a mother wagging her finger at a petulant child. Davison has a small role as well as Walt, a teacher who understands Marcus better than anyone.
Other cast include: Valerie Tian as Emily, David Negahban as Rashid, Adam Di Marco as Swint, Josh Ssettuba as Cole, Janet Kidder as Sabine Christian Scheider as Tony, Keegan Tracy as Ellen, Andrew McIlroy as Roy, Harrison MacDonald as Shaftner, Willem Jacobson as Stanhope, Tanaya Beatty as Tammy and Bruce Davison as Walt.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give WORDS AND PICTURES three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. First of all this is a film geared toward an audience that is desperate for good story and acting. That, of course, would be the over 35 who are tired of special effects, loud music, insane clanging of some robot metal or screeching alien and 3D.
Instead, WORDS AND PICTURES is an intense film about two people who are fighting their past and disabilities. It is more common than one would think that anti-social behavior is just a cover up for pain.
The issue of words and music for the students is fun to watch. The students become so involved but not only with the project, but beginning to communicate with one another (and not through a cell phone!). Presenting their project’s results is so stunning that I did spend time later going over it again. How is it possible to have words be more important than pictures or picture more important than words – it’s a quandary but one that leads to fantastic conversations!
In the end – is a man worth more than his words, a woman worth more than her pictures?