Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Words and Pictures

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual material including nude sketches, language and some mature thematic material
Profanity:Strong and crude language
Nudity/Sex:Artwork and caricature featuring nudes, sexual references, some offensive
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking and alcohol abuse
Violence/Scariness:Illness and family confrontations
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters
Movie Release Date:June 6, 2014
DVD Release Date:September 9, 2014
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual material including nude sketches, language and some mature thematic material
Profanity: Strong and crude language
Nudity/Sex: Artwork and caricature featuring nudes, sexual references, some offensive
Alcohol/Drugs: Drinking and alcohol abuse
Violence/Scariness: Illness and family confrontations
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Movie Release Date: June 6, 2014
DVD Release Date: September 9, 2014

wordsandpicturesWhat a refreshing change to have a witty grown-up love story in the midst of summer movie season. Popping up in the middle of monsters, superheroes, and special effects is this endearing romance built around what Shakespeare (and George Orwell) called “a merry war” between two teachers that challenges the darker wars each is fighting with themselves.

Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) teaches English at a prep school, very popular with his students and very good at getting the best from them. Once a promising poet, he has been unable to make any progress on a new book and his relationships in the community, with the school administration, and with his son are deteriorating due to his abuse of alcohol. The prestige he had as a writer “made it easier to forgive [his] faults,” a school board member warns him. His sense of himself as a good teacher is what fuels his denial about his failures in other parts of his life, and keeps him feeling superior. He likes to challenge the other faculty members to word games, especially one involving coming up with five-syllable words for each letter in the alphabet.


A new teacher arrives. Her name is Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche) and like Jack, she is respected for her work outside the classroom as a gallery artist. (The paintings in the film were created by Binoche herself, who is an accomplished artist.) When she says she teaches art, Jack comments, “Hence the scarf.” When he tells her he teaches literature, she responds, “Hence the ‘hence.'” He feels awake for the first time in many years because like Ferdinand in Shakespeare’s “Tempest,” he has found someone who speaks his language.  Jack talks too much. Dina talks too little, especially when it comes for the reason she is teaching and the reason she left New York and the reason she uses a cane, all of which are the same reason.


Or has he? He challenges Dina with a five-syllable “a” word: antihistamine. She responds “blahblahblahblah,” which, as he points out, is just four syllables, and, as he does not point out because he is intrigued by her, it is not a word. Dina believes that pictures are not just worth a thousand words, they are truer, too. They conduct a “merry war” between words and pictures because first, it captivates the students, and that matters to both of them more than they admit to themselves, and second, like the five-syllable word challenge, it gives them a witty context to explore some romantic feelings without getting too sentimental.  It can be arch and artificial, but it is smart and funny and Owen and Binoche are clearly enjoying themselves and we enjoy it, too.


Parents should know that this film includes strong language, some crude, sexual references and a sexual situation, painful family confrontations, illness, and some mild peril.

Family discussion:  Which do you prefer, words or pictures, and why?  How should the school handle a problem like the one faced by Emily?  What makes a great teacher?

If you like this, try: “Roxanne,” by the same director and “Dan in Real Life” with Juliette Binoche

Previous Posts

Exclusive Clip: Merry Kissmas
[jwvideo vid='59W5keR4' pid='GvkPWNBE'] Karissa Lee Staples (“Necessary Roughness”) and Brant Daugherty (“Pretty Little Liars”) star in the cheerful romantic comedy, "Merry Kissmas," available on Digital HD and On Demand December 1, ...

posted 8:00:11am Nov. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Erin Bernhardt of "Imba Means Sing"
The African Children's Choir is more than a performing group. It is a chance. Children from the direst poverty who tour with the group get to see the world. They go to school. And when they grow up, their education is paid for through ...

posted 6:35:22am Nov. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Barbershop - The Next Cut
Ice Cube and the gang are back for another "Barbershop" movie and it looks good! [iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0"] ...

posted 12:28:41pm Nov. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Happy Thanksgiving! Alice's Restaurant
Arlo Guthrie's classic song, "Alice's Restaurant," is based on the true story of his arrest for, well, garbage. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0"] ...

posted 3:45:01pm Nov. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Miracles From Heaven
[youtube][/youtube] Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah star in "Miracles from Heaven," based on Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl and Her Amazing Story of Healing by Christy Wilson Beam. ...

posted 8:00:03am Nov. 26, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.