DIFF screening: 'Words and Pictures' review

DIFF screening: 'Words and Pictures' review

Credit: Roadside Attractions

Starring Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche, "Words and Pictures" is a romantic comedy-drama that tells the story of two creative individuals who spark up an odd relationship while looking for inspiration and dealing with their own personal life struggles.

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by HAYDEN PITTMAN

WFAA Special Contributor

Posted on April 4, 2014 at 9:45 PM

Opening night of the 2014 Dallas International Film Festival kicked off at the Dallas City Performance Hall as stars walked the red carpet, making their way in for a screening of Fred Schepisi’s “Words and Pictures.”

Starring Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche, this romantic comedy-drama tells the story of two creative individuals who spark up an odd relationship while looking for inspiration and dealing with their own personal life struggles. This film focuses on playful human interaction, smart character conversations, and the general significance of words and pictures. It pulls you in every direction, as it makes you feel a variety of emotions and presents two main characters that are extremely capable and captivating to watch.

One of the best elements of this film is the humor presented by the characters, with much credit due to Clive Owen. Whether stumbling around drunk, expressing his strong, arrogant opinions, making an aggressive comment, or having a comeback for every situation, Owen is not shy with his words. This is further backed up by his past writing accomplishments and his job as a high school honors English teacher. In contrast, Binoche’s character comes into the story as a talented artist dealing with rheumatoid arthritis. Because of her condition, she is forced to work as the school’s honors art teacher and quickly strikes up connection with Owen. Their relationship is frisky and aggressive at first, much like children picking on their first love, but soon turns from competitive to not holding anything back.

The movie presents the question regarding which is more powerful: words or pictures, and further explores this by pitting Owen’s and Binoche’s characters against each other in a school contest to show which of these is more effective in conveying an idea, feeling, or emotion. Using each others’ given creative fields, the teachers play the students against one another and motivate them to get involved by painting their best possible work and coming up with original words of their own that hold meaning. All the while, Owen’s character struggles with alcoholism and the possibility of losing his job, while Binoche deals with the challenges of painting with her ailment. This rivalry is just the motivation they need to do what they do best.

This film is very simple, using a small, but effective, cast and basic settings. Parts of the movie are simply captivating, while others seem to be missing something. There are a few moments when something happens or is mentioned, and it feels like the audience is missing out on an inside joke, unexplained action, or out-of-place dialogue. There are no clear special effects or enhancements, and the film heavily relies on its characters and antagonistic dialogue.

Due to certain characters’ selfish actions, destructiveness, or general downward spiral, “Words and Pictures” is the kind of film that is tough to watch at certain points. At the same time, there are moments you will find yourself lost in the allure of comedy, light romance, and all-around playfulness. It’s the kind of presentation that makes you think about life, its different meanings, and the harshness of reality. The characters challenge each other to be better versions of themselves and to find inspiration all around them. In the end, this film is a different kind of romantic comedy and has much to offer.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Words and Pictures” is rated PG-13 for sexual material including nude sketches, language and some mature thematic material. Running time is 1 hour and 51 minutes. It will premiere in wide release May 23.

Check out other screenings and special events for the 2014 Dallas International Film Festival at this link. Enjoy the movies!


Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance film critic and entertainment blogger out of Dallas. More of his content can be found on YouPlusDallas.com and his author archive here. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and hopes to pursue a future in filmmaking and screenwriting. As an average, passionate film lover who rarely misses a film, his reviews are straightforward and his way with words will let you know in a simple way what he thinks. Don’t like what he has to say? Let him know at haydenp@youplusmedia.com or follow him on Twitter at @HPMoviePitt.

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