words and pictures

There are very few actors working today I would rather watch on screen than Clive Owen. He is talented and handsome, and capable of demonstrating that rare combination of strength and vulnerability. He’s an Oscar-caliber actor just waiting for the right film. His costar here, Juliette Binoche, is a beautiful and charming actress--and yes, she already has an Oscar. Together, one would think there would be very little that could keep them from making a terrific film--unless that one thing is the script.

Jack Marcus (Owen), an acclaimed author who teaches a high-school honors program, is a frustrated, cantankerous alcoholic who terrorizes his students and alienates his colleagues. When a renowned artist Dina Delsanto (Binoche), joins the faculty, she and Jack engage in a debate about which is more powerful: words or pictures. Despite their own crippling demons, a romance emerges--and because of the aforementioned demons, it falters.

In spite of the efforts of both leads, the film flails. For a story about the power of language, the dialogue is stilted, predictable and remarkably un-poetic. I wanted to love it--and trust me, I could pretty much watch Clive Owen cut his toenails--but this film was just plain disappointing. It’s a 5.

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