This movie’s central theme asks the question: “Is a picture worth a thousand words?” In a contest between art and literature, a high school teacher of English literature and a teacher of painting are determined to prove that their specialty depicts the reality of experience more effectively than the other.
English teacher Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) is barely making it to his classes on time, drinking from a flask in his car during recess. In the past he was a gifted poet but no longer. Then the renowned artist Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche) is hired to teach gifted aspiring teenage artists. The battle between words and pictures becomes increasingly tense with a dialogue that falls flat and focuses more on their dislike for each other than on the theme of articulation in words and images. A subplot is introduced involving a shy art student who is hesitant to express herself and is humiliated by a fellow student. As in all rom-com films we see two main characters who are repulsed by each other, who eventually have to surrender their egos, and finally realize that they need and are incomplete without the other.
Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche, excellent actors, almost seem embarrassed by the clichés and mundane script. “Words and Pictures” supports neither literature nor art, and ultimately the theme gets muddled. Though the audience gets a few laughs, the story is just not structured well enough to achieve what it wants. The only interesting feature is that Binoche actually is a real artist and the art she’s making in the film is her own art.
This film reveals a predictable outcome without subtlety, nuance, or original twists. Don’t bother seeing it!