watchthis: Words and Pictures (2013)
I had the great luck of seeing this lovely film at TIFF at Roy Thomson Hall on saturday night after my volunteer shift (they had a few empty seats and let us sit in on the screening)! Also, I got to see these amazing actors, Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche, who play the main characters in the film, at the screening.
Words and Pictures is a sort of romantic comedy with more dramatic elements that was truly a delight to watch. The movie features Owen as a passionate English teacher at a prep school and Binoche as his counterpart; the school’s dedicated and talented art teacher. The film has never before been showed to an audience (either through previous testing or premieres) so director Fred Schepisi joked that he was nervous as to how people would react. Laughter, shock, and tears – throughout the course of the film, the team managed to bring it all.
I must quickly mention that I missed the first 15-20 minutes of the film while finishing my shift, so I’m not actually entirely sure of how it started. What I do know, however, is that the two teachers quickly begin a clever flirtatious game with one another in which they, with the aid of their AP classes, argue over which medium is more powerful: words or pictures.
The two may bicker and argue along the way, but it isn’t long before they find that they truly do get along and that the friendly competition urges their students to give their all while working on their artistic projects.
Although lighthearted in many respects, the film does deal with the troubled lives the two teachers lead outside of school as well – Binoche’s character suffers from rheumatoid arthritis while Owen’s battles with alcoholism and his strained reputation in the workplace. These backstories serve to strike a nice balance between the comedic moments throughout the film while still grounding them in a more dramatic reality.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film, knowing nothing about it in the first place and by chance being able to catch a screening, so I was truly delighted and satisfied by the simplicity and entertainment value of the story at hand. Also, Owen and Binoche pull off their characters with easy grace, and as a student of both cinema and English, I too found myself debating about the value of words verses the value of pictures.
I don’t think I can come to a conclusion on that one, but it is certainly interesting to think about.
Words and Pictures was filmed in Vancouver, BC, and does not currently have a widespread release date. If you do manage to come across the film in the following months, I’d say that overall it’s a fun film that is worth a watch.