Words and Pictures Movie Poster Image

Words and Pictures



Mostly predictable romance has lots of drinking.
  • Review Date: June 1, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 111 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

It's possible to turn yourself around, even after serious setbacks -- including debilitating illness or substance abuse. Things may not be perfect, but once you accept how things are instead of how you wish they were, you can start to appreciate them.

Positive role models

Jack is a serious alcoholic who gets drunk nightly, but after one particularly awful incident, he decides to sober up. That involves some soul-searching as he realizes how he's affected the people around him, often for the worse.


High school students get into a shoving match that leaves some on the ground. A male student verbally harasses a female classmate using racist and sexist language.


A couple flirts frequently until they finally kiss. They're shown in bed, apparently after having sex, engaging in suggestive banter. One sequence revolves around a graphic drawing of a nude woman.


A fair bit of swearing, mostly variations of "s--t."


Several characters have Apple phones and computers.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character is an alcoholic who's frequently seen drinking and quite drunk. He drinks at work, he gets wasted at home after work, and he gets quite disorderly at local bars.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Words and Pictures is a somewhat atypical romantic drama, diverging from the typical Hollywood model by focusing on some serious issues: One of the characters in the central couple is an alcoholic (he gets drunk in bars, at home alone, and even on his lunch break), and the other has a debilitating disease. What's more, not everything is resolved in the end, and there's some real fallout from the characters' choices. In addition to the strong drinking content, there's also some swearing (mostly variations on "s--t"), kissing, implied sex (though no graphic nudity), and a scene that revolves around a sketch of a naked woman.

Parents say

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What's the story?

Jack (Clive Owen) is a popular high school English teacher who falls for Dina (Juliette Binoche), the new art teacher, in WORDS AND PICTURES. The set-up isn't terribly original: The two teachers initially can't understand each other because they speak different languages; Jack believes words are sacred, while Dina thinks nothing is more important than the image. As they battle to defend their positions, the two teachers become closer. But there are barriers to their romance, most notably the fact that he's a raging alcoholic, while she's struggling to deal with a serious illness.

Is it any good?


It's a shame to watch two very good actors -- Owen and Binoche -- stuck in a film that doesn't go anywhere. Words and Pictures isn't an awful movie, it's just not particularly exceptional or original. Its opposites-attract plot winds up as you'd expect it would; Jack and Dina turn to each other via a convoluted-though-still-predictable turn of events. The central conceit -- Jack and Dina's argument over the supremacy of either words or art, hence the movie's title -- requires a suspension of disbelief ... and a belief, in general, that the kids ostensibly enrolled in one of the best schools in the area are so bored that they'd be resuscitated by an oversimplified debate.

Though there's little chemistry when Jack and Dina are together, each actor is strong in their own right. No matter how lightweight the material (and how obvious the plot turns), both commit themselves fully to their roles. That's some comfort.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Words and Pictures' messages. How do they compare to what you've seen in other romance movies? Would you say there's ultimately a positive take-away?

  • How does the movie depict drinking and alcoholism? What are the consequences of Jack's habit? Do you think they're realistic?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 23, 2014
DVD release date:September 9, 2014
Cast:Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, Bruce Davison
Director:Fred Schepisi
Studio:Roadside Attractions
Topics:High school
Run time:111 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sexual material including nude sketches, language and some mature thematic material

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Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah June 13, 2014

111 minutes of utterly disposable cuteness.

I had no expectations for this because I only knew of the basic premise and saw the trailer once about two months ago. I mostly went to pass time, which it did well. I can't say that it's good, but it is kind of fun and charming. The actors and upbeat direction keep the movie from ever flat-out falling over, but the script does have its fair share of issues. Admittedly, the premise is petty to begin with and kind of ludicrous, but the performances make up for that for the most part. However, the script is really awkwardly constructed at times, mostly because there are subplots that develop but don't give any sort of satisfaction, and the movie ends up drifting a lot. It is really predictable and even the title hints at how characters will feel at the end of the movie. The first two thirds are very well-paced, but the last third begins to drag a tiny bit because there's a good amount of extraneous content. It's almost two hours, where it could have been about 95 minutes. If there is a silver lining to some of those random subplots, it's that we get to see the students, which are nice, particularly the main female student. She's nice to watch. The movie is good-natured but instantaneously forgettable, and still a little bit better than one would expect. 6.3/10, okay, one thumb (barely) down, average, etc.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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