Pulchritudinous, adj. beautiful, from the Latin, pulcher. Director Fred Schepisi’s new film, Words and Pictures is a simple delight. At the risk of sounding like a silly fangirl, I haven’t felt that warm and fuzzy during a film since Letters to Juliet (2010); however, it’s not all unicorns and pandas. Screenwriter Gerald Di Pego took what could be a cliched RomCom and presents a polished, intelligent, and heart-felt story of people who face real issues (while also having to deal with teenagers) while searching for connection.
Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) makes no qualms about being a sesquipedalian; he prides himself on it. He even makes a game out of it. An honors English teacher and a once successful writer, Marcus is a bit of a washed-up alcoholic. He’s isolated from his only son and hasn’t published in ages. Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche) makes no qualms about her general irritation regarding Jack. A great painter, Delsanto suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis and struggles with her body’s rebellion as and having to instruct teenagers on the finer points of her passion. Marcus declares a words vs. pictures war to get the students riled up about something other than their smartphones, and while the students pick up their pens and paintbrushes, their teachers begin to find their own sparks.
Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche are two of today’s finest actors, no doubt, and their chemistry makes the witty banter between Marcus and Delsanto come alive. Binoche’s laugh is always infectious, and let’s face it, no one can fall apart on-screen quite like her. Owen’s debonair charm mixed with his ability to play cheeky and arrogant (see 2012’s Hemingway and Gellhorn) makes him the perfect cocksure writer.
Sweet without saccharinity and emotional without melodrama, it’s a good balance of words, pictures, and life. Definitely go see it. Though it’s had a long road (Roadside bought it at Toronto and then sat on it until it’s limited release on May 23rd), it’s now gone wide and should be at a theatre near you. Pay attention, because the script moves fast, and keep a close eye on Delsanto’s paintings, because Binoche actually painted them.