Words and Pictures

6.61 h 55 min2014X-RayPG-13
Prep school English teacher Jack Marcus meets his match in Dina Delsanto, an abstract painter and new teacher on campus, and challenges her to a war between words and pIctures and, in the process, sparks an unlikely romance.
Fred Schepisi
Clive OwenJuliette BinocheBruce Davison
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Navid NegahbanAmy BrennemanValerie TianAdam DiMarcoJosh SsettubaJanet KidderChristian ScheiderKeegan Connor TracyAndrew McIlroyHarrison MacDonaldWillem JacobsonTanaya BeattyTosh Tur
Curtis BurchGerald Di Pego
Roadside Attractions
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagenuditysexual contentviolence
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4.3 out of 5 stars

3388 global ratings

  1. 57% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 26% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 10% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Isis McReviewed in the United States on August 23, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
If you enjoy real to life characters and non ordinary plots, this film is for you
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I love well-written screen scripts. I love flawless performances, I love perfect direction. So, there is nothing not to love in this film, despite some negative reviews.
Although it is a romantic story, this one does not belong to the realm of the boring, corny and redundant plot. The contrary, this is how it goes. Two characters: an English teacher, his first love is English, his second his son who he rarely connects with and a competitor to both: a drinking problem. Owen's character is about to lose his tenure because of his obnoxious ways, centric demeanor, lack of achievements and recent troubles. On the other corner, we have a Fine Arts teacher (Binoche). Her first love, art, her second love art and other than that, she is just trying to stay afloat from a restriction resulted from rheumatoid arthritis that had slumped her successful career as an abstract painter. She is the new addition to the same school. She and he meet and suffer "hate at first sight" if such exist. Through their early interactions, they feud about their careers, one against the other one. War is declared and a contest is set to show what is more important: words or pictures?. They drag along their pupils, the Honor Students. Frankly, the dynamics between the two are much more than cute, engaging, etc. Both characters are so well built that either you love them or dislike them a lot but you will be getting engaged! Supporting actors (honor students) have a swell role too. Bottom line, there is a crisis, there are downs and there are ups that will make you pass 115 mins quite entertained and enjoying it. Do not expect a Masterpiece but certainly, you will get a non-ordinary story and a not ordinary performance. 4 stars in my book.
28 people found this helpful
John P. Jones IIIReviewed in the United States on May 17, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
My Juliette Binoche “fix”…
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…and once again, not only was I not disappointed, I was deeply enthralled. She has buried “the hook” deep in my brain (and, no doubt, a few million other men). The hook was set when I first saw her many years ago in Krzysztof Keslowski’s “Three Colours – Blue.” She is matched well with Clive Owen, who plays the part of Jack Marcus. Both are teachers at a preppie “back East,” high school, Croyden, somewhere along the coast of Maine. Fred Schepisi, the director, had a thoughtful plot, with both intellectual and sensual components, and two great actors. He turned out a wonderful film, which was released in 2014.

Juliette Binoche plays the part of Dina Delsanto, a newly arrived art teacher at Croyden. She already has a good reputation as an accomplished artist. She walks with the aid of a crutch. She also has wrist support. As the viewer will learn, she has rheumatoid arthritis. At the relatively young age of 40, she is “damaged goods,” and her “edge” reveals that she knows it. (I thought of the “edge” of Marlee Matlin, deaf since birth, in “Children of a Lesser God”.) The scene in which Delsanto could not take off her own clothes, during a flare-up of RA, truly underscored the “damaged goods” aspect.

Jack Marcus is a long-term teacher at Croyden. He is a wordsmith. And he inspires and pushes his students to creatively use words to express feelings. (Where was this guy when I was in school?) He is also “damaged goods,” but more of his own making. He is an alcoholic. Carries the vodka in his thermos, kept in the car, for a few “hits” at lunchtime. He has a 19-year old son, at college, with a girlfriend the son would like dad to meet. Oh, the pathos of the scene in which the son, in the phone conversation, realizes his dad is too drunk (again!) to meet his girlfriend, or even drive. Earlier than most in life, the son becomes the adult, having to take away the car keys from dad.

Marcus is “Words.” Delsanto is “Pictures.” There is a lot of playful repartee between the two of them on the relative importance of each. And both teachers push their students in a friendly rivalry to think about, and give examples of which is most powerful. Of course, the cliché about a picture being worth a thousand words is used and debunked. Marcus quotes Updike about the birds on the wire, and he also quotes the Declaration of Independence in a moving section.

Better than Lourdes, and for the “au courant,” also better than Chimayo. The “magic wand,” that is. As one might suspect, given all that building tension and repartee, it finds horizontal fulfillment. The crutch is not literally hung on the wall, but it is missing in the following scenes. (What a great pick-up line, Cherie.) As for the alcoholism, well, that takes its own turns and twists, harder to hang on a wall.

If I had any doubts how to rate this movie, they were fully resolved towards the end when one of the students of the wordsmith chose to quote from one of the most moving passages in the English language, James Agee’s prologue to “A Death in the Family.” It commences: “We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee when I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.” The time was 1915. In that “lower middle class” neighborhood, the fathers had come home, had dinner, and it was now time to water the front lawn, just when “ the locust were started and the fireflies were out.” In the movie, they student quoted: “…then the fathers sank out leisurely in crossed suspenders, their collars removed and their necks looking tall and shy.”

Thanks again, Juliette, as well as Clive, for a powerful, moving movie. 6-stars.
11 people found this helpful
Ron VincentReviewed in the United States on February 4, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Witty, quirky, and intriguing
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Clive Owen is a teacher students adore and most colleagues despise. Juliette Binoche is a renown artist with a glacial facade. Owen’s Words and Binoche’s Pictures provide a lively point/counterpoint in a dramedy set in an upscale college prep school. Owen plays a flawed, declining writer trying to find inspiration in vodka while Binoche plays an infirm artist trying to find a reason to paint again. Some romance, some self-loathing, and many memorable moments.
5 people found this helpful
NathanReviewed in the United States on February 1, 2022
1.0 out of 5 stars
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It's abundantly clear that the filmmaker knows very little about words or pictures, and even less about moving pictures. The lead characters natter on smugly the entire movie about their respective "artforms", so proud of their pretentious drivel that your eyes will roll into the back of your neck. The supporting characters behave like good little NPC's, demonstrating just the bare minimum to pass as androids programmed to fit into forced, convenient messages. Emotionally transparent beats implemented in attempts at catharsis spark annoyance rather than charm. Plot points present and resolve themselves in neat jumbo-sized bows with practically zero dramatic tension. These are not real people, just soulless props, and this is nothing we all haven't seen before a billion, billion times.
4 people found this helpful
Jo FlowersReviewed in the United States on January 21, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
Lovely film, but....
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The actors are magnificent, each reacting and acting always in character. Owen's breakdown scene should be shown to acting classes of how to convey true feelings of desolation. A couple of problems: the resolution is expected in the "war" (although done beautifully) and their relationship is resolved too quickly given his severe alcoholism. But I can forgive that given this is a film not real life. It would have been more dramatic to have the two resolve to work through their problems rather than have a "rom com" ending. One false note was Amy Brenneman who I had loved in Judging Amy. She had a small part but no grip on her character and her performance was as amateur as in a high school play. Another small annoyance that is frequently in films: his son looks nothing like him, not facially in any way nor in size. Why cast someone who obviously doesn't look like he remotely be!songs to Owen's character? And it's not as if he had any acting chops! Was it a favor to someone?
4 people found this helpful
Uncle ElmerReviewed in the United States on February 13, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
I Gave the Movie 4 Stars Because It Was About Teachers
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So few movies really portray teachers as dedicated public servants trying to better mankind through education and instead make them look like salacious lechers, lazy bums or trying to harm students when most are good folk. This movie is a very good portrayal of teachers and the good they do every day. The only draw back is the drunken behavior of the male lead teacher who drinks booze out of a thermos at lunch during the school day and is basically drunk for half the movie. I went to a prep school as a post graduate (after high school) for a year. I can honestly say a drunken teacher would be fired on the spot at every prep school because parents are not going to pay $$$$ high school tuition for a teacher who smells like booze. This same teacher was so drunk he was banned from a local restaurant. Again, this behavior would put teachers in private schools on the fast track to unemployment. The irresponsibility of the drunken teacher is so over the top it takes away from a good film about teachers. The woman playing a co-lead role as a teacher was profound and captivating as a person dealing with a serious disease trying to teach. Unlike the drunken male teacher this teacher who was inflected with an illness was warm and realistic. Good movie on teaching. Boozy male teacher not realistic in today's prep schools.
One person found this helpful
Anna M. FlanaganReviewed in the United States on January 15, 2022
2.0 out of 5 stars
So many cliches in so little time
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If I never see another movie in which the main character is a self-pitying, alcoholic, failed writer turned English teacher, it will be too soon. I agree with other reviewers that the most interesting aspect of the movie was showing the artist trying to find a new way to create in the face of rheumatoid arthritis. That would have been in interesting movie all by itself. And throwing in the subplot of the arrogant student sexually harassing another student and getting expelled--what was the point of that? The whole resolution was forced and unrealistic. He ruins the first painting she's done in six months that she's happy with, and they end up laughing and kissing? No. Big fail.
4 people found this helpful
Torin McFarlandReviewed in the United States on February 12, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
For Those Who Loved English and Art Class (or well-written romcoms)
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Words and Pictures is a romantic comedy about a surly, alcoholic middle school English teacher, and a brusque, newly ill middle school art teacher, who butt heads unceremoniously but flirtatiously over whether words or pictures are more important. The back-and-forth, the pedantic lines, and especially the portrayal of our artist losing the ability to finesse her work are powerful and enthralling. Further, the plot has a number of levels (well-done, not thrown together) where we see how our protagonists interact with family (strained, loving, imperfect; all too human) and deal with a galling sexual harassment case on campus. All in all, I highly recommend the film, having enjoyed it very much
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