Words and Pictures – movie review


I watched this movie on the plane from Singapore to Bangkok. 

The movie asked a very pertinent question: which has more value and worth – art or words?

De Santo (Juliette Binoche) is a well known artist who has to stop painting due to a rheumatic illness. She accepts a teaching position in a private school and challenges the English teacher Jack Marcus that a painting is worth more than a thousand words.

Jack is an alcoholic whose job is on jeopardy. His passion for words is obvious as every long vocabulary he uses is followed by the root origin of the word and the long syllabus word quizzes he likes test his listeners. His  magazine for students’ work is being withdrawn and he faces expulsion from a teachers’ guild club.

The contest between words and picture motivates the competitive couple to overcome her disability and his complacency to break their mental barriers and create again.

The couple falls in love and in a night of drunkard stupor, he destroys her painting. Remorseful,  he seeks help from AA and they reconcile.

But wait,  so which has more worth? Art or words?  Watch the movie to find out. But my appreciation for the written words definitely beats my appreciation for abstract art.

I like the quotes he use from books to to describe ordinary scenes:

John Updike describing birds sitting randomly on a wire as punctuations for an invisible sentence.

Jeanette Winterson on shafts of sunlight streaming in from open windows – tripping over slaps of sunshine the size of towers.

Joyce Carey’s description of a cold morning – frosts on grass like condensed moonlight.

Wish I can write like that too.

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About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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One Response to Words and Pictures – movie review

  1. Jef Cotham says:

    Updike also wrote there are chords within us others must strike, which seems particularly apropos for this wonderful feature. I rarely watch movies more than once but I just finished watching “Words and Pictures” and would rewind to watch again if I hadn’t been watching on television. Anyone who recognizes the incredible power of language and art to shape our souls, express our thoughts, connect us, and transform the mundane into the sublime should definitely watch this movie.

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