Sunday, June 22, 2014

Movie Review: "Words and Pictures" (2013)

Movie"Words and Pictures"
Director: Fred Schepisi
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes
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An alcoholic English professor named Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) and an arthritic and angry former professional artist-turned-professor named Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche) start a friendly competition at their school in order to inspire students to pick which is more important: words or pictures.

For a movie that's meant to be about how teachers and the arts are supposed to inspire students, the main characters sure aren't inspiring. We know and have known teachers personally throughout our lives. They have all done far more inspiring things with less effort and much less arrogance. Most teachers don't do inspirational things in an effort to save their jobs, but rather, because they genuinely like to teach and further students' educations, goals, and ambitions. There are tons of other films revolving around the importance of teachers like "Stand and Deliver," "Dead Poet's Society," and even a more recent movie like "Freedom Writers" had more to offer in the way of inspiration and education.

While the premise of this story is sort of intriguing, pitting words against pictures in a battle royale, the main characters as teachers are basically unlikable. Clive Owen's Jack is a miserable alcoholic who is a former writer turned burnout teacher. He steals, he lies, and he disappoints those who love him. Juliette Binoche's Dina has a hard time coping with her worsening rheumatoid arthritis as an artist, something I can relate to personally, but she refuses to accept help or love or warmth from anyone close to her. She's very bitter and very mean outwardly so (but I can also relate to this, too, unfortunately, because some days, the pain is just too much to be nice to the world). When Owen and Binoche are on screen together, we really didn't get a sense that they could be lovers, let alone friends. It reminds us of the typical old (and outdated) movie cliche about how two people who initially hate one another and constantly butt heads eventually end up falling in love with one another. Yawn. This is a tired and overused tactic in movie making and we're sure it's not the last time we're going to see it, but filmmakers, at least make it semi-convincing. In addition, the students involved in this 'battle' aren't ones audiences can really root for. They are over-privileged brats and there's no real development in any of their characters beyond a couple of here and theres.

Beyond all of this, the movies wasn't even 2 hours long and yet it felt like it was 3 hours. It's very slowly paced and it's hard to watch so many arguments in such a short time span. Also, it sure was distracting when Clive Owen's character's seemingly American accent was intermittent with his real, British one. I mean, it wasn't convincing in the slightest. Overall, this movie wasn't one we were looking forward to initially and didn't really care about afterward. Watch one of the movies we listed above and call it a day.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 38%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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