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Interview: Juliette Binoche Paints in Schepisi Romance 'Words and Pictures,' Challenged Assayas to Write Cannes Entry 'Sils Maria' (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO, TRAILER)

Photo of Anne Thompson 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." She talks about working with Clive Owen, learning English, and challenging Olivier Assayas to write a movie focused on women. That movie debuted in Cannes, "Clouds of Sils Maria."
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen in "Words and Pictures"
Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen in "Words and Pictures"

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.

This article is related to: Juliette Binoche, Toronto, Festivals, Clive Owen, Clive Owen, Interviews, Interviews, Interviews , Interviews, Video, indieWIRE Video, Video, Olivier Assayas, Olivier Assayas, Summer Hours, Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, Festivals

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.