Intellectual Dueling at a Prep School

“Words and Pictures,” a comedy of ideas couched in the format of a Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn movie, depicts dueling academics at a New England prep school.

Comments: 27

  1. I had no idea that Binoche was such a talented painter. I'm looking forward to seeing this.

  2. I absolutely loved the film. I was completely charmed by the story and the characters. It would be nice to see this film pull in a big audience because I'd like to see more films that have unique adult characters, themes and stories like this woven in with heart and real laughs. Bravo! It's a rare gem!

  3. I saw this movie few weeks ago at the Montclair Film Festival (NJ) and really enjoyed it. I agree the ending becomes fluffy -- but that did not diminish the pleasure of the story. I think the portrayal of a main character with a chronic, and unpredictable condition (like rheumatoid arthritis) is so needed in film today. Brava to Ms. Binoche for portraying that aspect of the character so well. The movie doesn't shy away from the humor that's needed to get up and going every day. I also appreciated the character of Dina's sister -- that's a complicated role that many sisters, daughters, friends play in life. It was good to see that reflected back on the screen.

  4. [Before it collapses into something warm and fuzzy and limp, “Words and Pictures” throws out ideas that are worth pondering.]

    Does "throws out" in this context mean "brings to the audience's attention", or "discards"? If it is the former, I'd like to see the film, otherwise, not so much.

  5. I've seen the movie and, unfortunately, it's the latter - it discards those ideas for the linearity of romantic comedy, which is not quite funny and not that romantic being that from the very first moment you know where it will lead the audience...

  6. I saw this last week at SIFF and was delighted with the witty dialogue and comic timing between Juliet Binoche and Clive Owen. It magnificently (that's five--a joke from the movie) recreates the patter of classic onscreen moments as in Bringing Up Baby (Hepburn and Grant) and His Girl Friday (Russell and Grant), while updating the storyline to more current themes. It's refreshing when a movie won't dumb down the ideas, they used the students in the movie to play that role and help understand the power of creativity. I too thought the ending was fluffy, but this was both entertaining and thoughtful!

  7. You had me at Clive Owen. If he made cat food commercials I would get a cat.

  8. Despite heroic performances by the two main actors, the film falls apart because of its paint-by-numbers approach. Is there a wearier trope than the drunken author and willful painter? Must one be flawed to be talented, misunderstood to create? I get that there would be no plot without those stock issues, but they come off as old-fashioned and discredited. And yes, we have a multi-culti school, but is it clearly a prep school and everyone there has perfectly clean uniforms and doesn't seem to struggle with any issues other than overbearing crushes and love-hate caricatures, all presented without a trace of irony. The film comes off more as a commercial for the school than as a credible story. But I would probably send my kid to that school.

  9. @Janina Years ago I didn't know she could make great chocolate either.

  10. Owen and Binoche are terrific in pretty much anything so I was looking forward to this movie. The writing, however, was such a morass of clichés that the film was frankly painful to watch. It was so embarrassingly bad that we had to leave after half an hour.

  11. I imagine you're under 30 and love shootemup-monsters/vampires etc Well this writer-editor/teacher loved it...the kind of conversations teachers who care have! [It just opened here in Silicon Valley.]

  12. Juliette Binoche's Green Period. Wow! Just Wow!

  13. The movie was delicious . The review was perfect! Clive and Juliette were a joy to watch .
    The perfect movie .No Killings,and mind challenging trying t remember all the quotes. You left with a smile on your face.

  14. It's a good movie that could have been great, if not for the dumbed down ending. It was a waste of an incredible cast and the well-crafted dialogue on the first 3/4 of the film.

  15. Binoche and Owen are terrific, but they deserve a better film. Yet one more movie about a prep school that is populated by stock characters and based on a predictable narrative of uplift.

  16. Why is she painting in a style interesting in 1950? Is this a comment on the cultural backwardness of this New England mileau? Beyond 'been there, done that,' postwar angst and abstraction as individualistic liberation isn't the social zeitgeist of our time.

  17. probably because this style remains popular. Rummage through saatchi online where you will find hundreds of artists who work in abstract expressionism. Artists continu to paint landscapes, Jude's and flowers too.

  18. I loved it...yes an age-old argument, rarely heard in pop culture these days!

  19. I'm really surprised so many people have disliked this movie. I thought it was the best romantic comedy I've seen in years. Yes, there are weaknesses -- as people have pointed out, the ending felt lazy and the subplot about the students was a bit weak (though I found the one with the son quite moving). But Owen and Binoche are superb and brilliantly matched, and it's such a pleasure to see two such super-smart and fully realized characters on screen. Binoche's physical disability is a fascinating aspect of her character, too. When was the last romcom in which a woman had to prove her sex appeal through intelligence and language, not physical attributes? Don't be swayed by the haters: if you like smart movies and wish romcoms were more substantial, this film should be on your list.

  20. I so agree with everything you write. Except for that last frame, the movie was perfect. I even liked the subplots. Added dimension to this marvelous pic.

  21. The only interesting thing was watching Clive Owen channel Nicolas Cage. Don't waste your money on this awful movie.

  22. This was a boring movie. There was nothing noble in Juliet Binoche's performance. She is a wonderful, lovely actress with great talent but this film was really terrible. Clive Owen's performance was trite. The cordurary jackets he wore were awful. Really, a drunk Enlish teaher without a mention of Byron seemed such a waste. They both were wandering around looking for a real film.

  23. If seems that Maynard has never taught, painted, or written, seriously, other than, perhaps, a tweet. There is always time to learn Maynard. Watch the film again; you will get it.

  24. Marvellous movie! I rented this movie on itunes, watching it on a flight. Though the ending was indeed "warm and fuzzy", the overall movie, the insights into the challenges of a creative, obsessive character reminded me of many self-destructive artists I have known. I was totally absorbed, didn't mind the ending and have recommended Words and Pictures to many friends.

  25. I am an artist. I write songs...I paint pictures...I write poetry...This movie was so uplifting and enlightening,as well as entertaining. I thoroughly loved it.

  26. We bought the film, started playing it and decided to fall asleep to have an early Sunday. Not quite trough the film as yet, but I have the impression that the overdone tone of the film can be a lost in translation issue. Is it pretentious and overdone as both director and screen player tried too hard for s Fellini-like film? I looked at your reviews yo decide whether to spend Monday night sorting this out or not.

  27. Are we so starved for films about smart adults in creative occupations that we will accept any effort as a win?

    Hollywood movie magic spackles over character realities. Had Clive Owens' character been portrayed by a stock actor with a fraction of Owens' charm, would audiences have seen the character for the destructive, boorish chaos-creator he was?

    Binoche did an elegant job of portraying her character, but the script, mired in what I suspect is supposed to pass for 1940s charming misogyny, has her character making all the sacrifices in what is supposed to be a "romance." She plays HIS word game. She rises to HIS challenge. And he is a lout. It is not her job to rehabilitate him, and yet she makes concessions after he destroys her first productive work in ages.

    We wouldn't have films without flawed characters, but this film asks too much forgiveness from the viewer without showing character growth that sustains rooting interest.

    I am as starved as anyone for a smart, adult romantic comedy, but this is not it. Even with the Hollywood window dressing of a supposedly "intelligent" film, it is not smart. If this seems like witty dialogue, watch some Billy Wilder or Lubitsch, or any film from an Anita Loos script. Then you will have a metric with which to measure "smart" and see that this endeavor tries mightily with a wealth of talent, but sadly comes up short.