“A picture is a poem without words.” Horace
Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen shimmer as academics at a small prep school in Maine; “Dina Delsanto” is a renown artist debilitated by rheumatoid arthritis, enlisted to instruct gifted art students; “Jack Marcus”, a published author, teaches Honors English; living off past plaudits, a succinct wordsmith, cursed with a lethal hobby of slurping vodka, until oblivion intervenes . Their contentious relationship is informed by an intense and scintillating narrative; flashbacks to salty, scorching, stunning verbal trysts of Tracy/Hepburn films. A contest between “words and pictures” is launched between the two fields; what ensues are valid, thought-provoking hypotheses supporting each team; “thinkers” regardless of their profession will be inspired by the intellectual teeter-tauter, repartee; refreshing, watching a brainy, feisty couple trade barbs and witticisms. The combination of seasoned actors, an intriguing scenario, taunt viewers to enter the fray of mental gymnastics, sparring from one legitimate premise to another; an exhilarating exercise worth the stretch.
Binoche is marvelous to watch; she is a painter, and we share in her process, as she remarkably creates one glorious canvass after another, some from a pulley she devises to alleviate “Dina’s” excruciating arthritic pain; all the works piled in the studio were painted at different periods in her life; she is a talent in all she “brushes”. Thomas Merton says “art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves all at the same time”. Juliette Binoche’s performance is a penetrating portrait of Merton’s statement.
Leonardo da Vinci insists that “painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” “Words and Pictures” dazzles in proving that the two can live harmoniously, simultaneously seeing, feeling even feeding off of each other .