Oscar-winner Juliette Binoche ("The English Patient") is the best reason to see Fred Schepisi's "Words and Pictures," a light romantic comedy about two rival high school teachers. Clive Owen's English teacher with a drinking problem falls for Binoche's art teacher trying to paint as she battles rheumatoid arthritis. They engage in a war of words vs. pictures that ignites them as well as their students.
Some of the best scenes involve Binoche sprawled belly-down on a swirling chair as she maneuvers a giant paint brush, splashing wide swatches of color on her canvas. It turns out, I learned from our interview in Toronto, that she came up with this visual idea, based on her research. She created the paintings in the film herself.
Binoche broke out at age 23 in Philip Kaufman's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," opposite Daniel Day Lewis, followed by "The Widow of St. Pierre," "Certified Copy," "Cache," "Chocolat," and more. She works closely with her directors, and brings them material.
I'm excited by her next project, "Sils Maria," which arose from an idea she brought to "Summer Hours" writer-director Olivier Assayas, which is filming now with Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz. When she talks about it her face lights up.