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Words and Pictures keeps with the hack platitude playbook

WORDS AND PICTURES (2014). Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche

Doane Gregory/D Films

0.5 out of 4 stars

Title
Words and Pictures
Written by
Gerald Di Pego
Directed by
Fred Schepisi
Starring
Juliette Binoche, Clive Owen
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English

It's fitting that the film's title works as a bare-bones definition of what a movie even is. Words and Pictures plays like someone – say, an alien who half-watched three or four indie romances – set out to make something that barely qualifies as a motion picture. Yes, the pictures sure do move, animating a drunk prep-school English prof (Clive Owen) squaring off against a recently arrived art teacher (Juliette Binoche) over what's more expressive: words or pictures.

Director Fred Schepisi (Six Degrees Of Separation) should have long ago been banished to blocking low-budget dinner theatre, and a script that stabs desperately at cultured wit milks its only laughs, unintentionally, from a co-worker's (Bruce Davison) ludicrous Colonel Sanders facial hair. In keeping with the hack platitude playbook, Owen and Binoche's quarrelling profs eventually fall for each other. Cued by a honking lite-classical score, it all feels like an adaptation of a fan script for a proposed Frasier episode.

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