Words and Pictures

Words and Pictures

Director: Fred Schepisi, Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, Bruce Davison

Cast: Fred Schepisi, Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, Bruce Davison


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An English teacher and fallen literary star challenges an art teacher to a war of words versus images to determine which form carries the greatest meaning in this romantic comedy drama from director Fred Schepisi (It Runs in the Family, The Eye of the Storm). Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) is a


An English teacher and fallen literary star challenges an art teacher to a war of words versus images to determine which form carries the greatest meaning in this romantic comedy drama from director Fred Schepisi (It Runs in the Family, The Eye of the Storm). Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) is a prep-school English teacher who sees his students' obsession with social media as a literary and intellectual abyss. His alcoholism is slowly taking over his life as his estranged son drifts ever further away, and the school's once-proud literary magazine lapses into irrelevance. Meanwhile, art teacher and abstract painter Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche) wrestles with debilitating arthritis that has forced her to lay down her paintbrush indefinitely. Jack respects Dina and even flirts with her on occasion, but he has a cruel habit of riling her that leads to swelling tensions between the two teachers. As Jack's performance review draws near, he knows that his continued failure to engage his students could cost him his job. Out of Jack's desperation comes a flash of innovation, and he boldly issues a challenge to his rival in the visual arts: Convinced that a mere picture could never truly convey the emotion and nuance of the English language, Jack challenges Dina to create a painting that's as powerful as his own written words. Meanwhile, as the student body grows increasingly engaged in this vibrant creative conflict, love starts to blossom in the heat of battle.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
A smart, funny, well-written, and beautifully acted romantic comedy-drama seems to be a tough order for Hollywood to fill these days, but Fred Schepisi's charming indie Words and Pictures delivers just that. The movie stars Clive Owen as Jack, a onetime successful author who is currently the charismatic English teacher at an exclusive East Coast prep school. His style is to needle and engage his students, but his behavior has grown erratic and his writing career nonexistent as his alcoholism has worsened, and he's informed that he might be let go after his upcoming performance review. When new art teacher Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche), whose rheumatoid arthritis keeps her from painting, joins the staff, he tries repeatedly to break through her shell. In order to stoke a fire in his pupils and get Dina's attention, Jack proposes a contest in which the students debate whether words or pictures are the more powerful art form. Eventually, his playful feuding with Dina leads to a more serious connection. Working from a first-rate script by Gerald Di Pego, Schepisi and the cast strike the perfect balance between comedy and drama throughout the movie. The banter between the two teachers occasionally snaps as sharply as the dialogue in classic screwball comedies did, and the dramatic turns, especially Jack's painful interactions with his adult son, don't succumb to pathos because Owen has no interest in unfairly earning the audience's sympathy. He makes sure Jack's worst character flaws -- accentuated by his drinking problem -- remain on display. Clive Owen always brings a strong masculine presence to his roles -- he would have made a fascinating James Bond -- and while that's certainly true here as well, he tempers it with the character's erudite playfulness. He makes Jack charming but untrustworthy: a self-destructive, aggressive intellectual. Juliette Binoche's Dina, on the other hand, has cut herself off from the world out of bitterness. She's angry that she can't make art and that she's forced to use crutches to get around. Binoche ensures that her character doesn't melt quickly or easily for Jack's audacious flirtations. They may be playing English and art teachers, but this movie works so well because of their chemistry. The story here doesn't surprise, but it works because of how well-observed the characters are. Their interactions are familiar not because we've seen these arcs before, but because they behave like real-life people do, in all their complex glory. The running debate in the movie is lighthearted, but the film eventually proves, both via its own quality and the love story at its center, that mixing words and pictures is far more rewarding than judging them against each other.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Lions Gate
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

cc Audio Commentary with Director Fred Schepisi Behind the scenes of Words and Pictures

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Clive Owen Jack Marcus
Juliette Binoche Dina Delsanto
Bruce Davison Walt
Navid Negahban Will Rashid
Amy Brenneman Elspeth Croyden
Christian Scheider Tony
Josh Ssettuba Cole
Valerie Tian Emily
Janet Kidder Sabine
Adam DiMarco Swint
Keegan Connor Tracy Ellen
Andrew McIlroy Roy Loden
Harrison MacDonald Shaftner
Willem Jacobson Stanhope
Tanaya Beatty Tammy
Tosh Turner Finetti
Style Dayne Friedman
Mackenzie Cardwell Gloria
Eva Allan Catherine
Garwin Sanford Huntsman Manager
David Lewis Tom (Bartender)
Brittany Hobson Isabella
Bernadette Beck Girl in Hallway
Wesley Macinnes Boy in Hallway
Donna Yamamoto Huntsman Woman
Patrick Gilmore Cop
Angelo Renai Seated Man
Patricia Drake Assistant Headmaster
Cooper MacNeill Laughing Boy
Alison Jackson Tony's Friend's Girl
Myfanwy Meilen Huntsman Woman #2
Lee Jeffries Huntsman Man

Technical Credits
Fred Schepisi Director,Producer
Deborah Aquila Casting
Ian Baker Cinematographer
Wade Barker Executive Producer
Patrizia Von Brandenstein Production Designer
Darren Brisker Sound/Sound Designer
Curtis Burch Producer
Gary Cogill Co-producer
Joseph Newton Cohen Executive Producer
Richard Cowan Asst. Director
Frankie Dey Co-producer
Kendelle Elliott Art Director
Derrick Evers Executive Producer
Bob Gass Executive Producer
Judy Burch Gass Executive Producer
Paul Grabowsky Score Composer
Peter Honess Editor
Madison Lacerte Associate Producer
Todd Masters Makeup Special Effects
Tish Monaghan Costumes/Costume Designer
Gerald Di Pego Producer,Screenwriter
Nancy Rae Stone Executive Producer
Richard Toussaint Executive Producer
Maureen Webb Casting
Peter Wilke Camera Operator
Tricia Wood Casting

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Words and Pictures
1. Four Minutes Late [7:30]
2. Kids Call Me Mr. Marc [2:18]
3. Good Morning [7:20]
4. I Can Do It [8:18]
5. Words Are Lies [9:40]
6. A Thousand Lies [7:48]
7. Communicate [8:16]
8. It's Me [9:14]
9. When Things Calm Down [7:56]
10. Get A Ride Home [:06]
11. What Do You Want? [4:13]
12. It's Perfect [8:56]
13. Are You Helping? [7:17]
14. New Words [5:42]
15. Words Vs. Pictures [:43]
16. End Credits [5:50]


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