Sunday, 21 September 2014

WORDS AND PICTURES - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Teacher Romance on Blu-Ray via dFilms

Words and Pictures (2014)
Dir. Fred Schepisi
Starring: Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Movies about teachers run the gamut of emotions. They can be lushly sentimental (1939's exquisite Goodbye Mr. Chips), ludicrously but winningly sentimental (To Sir With Love), horrendously treacly (The Dead Poets Society), complex and almost unbearably devastating (1951's The Browning Version) and hot babe teachers in the inner city who get to their thug charges by forceful inspiration (Dangerous Minds). There's elements of all these items to varying degrees in Fred (The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Roxanne) Schepisi's Words and Pictures, though it attempts adding few new elements to the mix.

At it's most basic level, though, the movie is a fairly standard romantic comedy with a pair of teachers in a private school. Clive Owen is the irrepressible alcoholic English teacher who is on the verge of losing his job, even though his students absolutely adore him. Juliette Binoche is the new Fine Arts teacher who quickly manages to ingratiate herself upon her students also. These two definitely deserve a shot at falling in love.

The usual antics conspire against them, but there's never any doubt that they're going to end up happily ever after. What becomes the central conflict is an ideological tussle twixt the English teacher and the Art teacher. What's more important? Words? Or Music? The teachers are pitted against each other in a school wide competition to make public presentations that get the students really using their noggins with respect to the powers inherent in both art and literature.

Any movie that places so much emphasis upon learning, language and artistic expression is already ahead of the pack. That the movie is also a romance involving a middle-aged couple (albeit impossibly attractive middle-agers) is also a welcome reprieve from the usual rom-com dross. Gerald Di Pego's screenplay is happily literate and Schepisi's direction always sprightly. At the end of the day, this is fairly old-fashioned and traditional, but as such, comes as a welcome relief.


Words and Pictures is available on Blu-Ray via dFilms. It comes replete with a superb commentary track from the legendary Australian director.