By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 4, 2014 at 10:23PM
Oscar-winner Juliette Binoche ("The English Patient") is the best reason to see Fred Schepisi's "Words and Pictures" (new trailer below), 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 (below), 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. She wanted him to do a film focused on women and he came up with the goods. She co-stars with Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz in the movie, which won raves at Cannes. When she talks about it her face lights up.
"Words and Pictures" opened limited on May 23, and expands on June 6.