|Owen and Binoche are delightful.|
Directed by Fred Schepisi
Produced by Curtis Burch, Gerald Di Pego and Fred SchepisiWritten by Gerald Di Pego
Starring Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, Bruce Davison, Valerie Tian and Amy Brenneman
Fred Schepisi's new film offers a war between the arts and the sexes. Jack Marcus (Owen), an English teacher and published author, is on the verge of being fired, when Dina Delsanto (Binoche), an art instructor and accomplished painter, starts teaching at his high school. Both have their struggles, such as his alcoholism and her rheumatoid arthritis, but their approaches to art make their daily exchanges a regular debate, which carries over to their students. Soon a friendly competition to outdo each other's art form begins, and the school is abuzz with the question they pose: which is the better, more expressive art form - words or pictures? The debate rages on, though their relationship might prove to be more than just colleagues, as their art spills over into their personal lives and changes them both.
In the loosest of definitions, this lark amounts to a lighter version of The Class, with a romance thrown into the mix. That isn't a bad thing. In fact, it seems like a small French film that's in English. While the story is predictable and the plot doesn't offer surprises, the film doesn't disappoint. Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche give rich performances, and the chemistry between them is undeniable. Though conventional, the film explores and experiments with the concept of the arts, and it is a happy medium of ideas about art and the impact it has on all of us. It could go further, yet it does enough to be more than a plain romantic comedy. Granted, it is a lightweight and harmless exercise that doesn't risk much. However, sometimes a film just feels right, and this one did for me. It's flawed, but Shepisi's latest is a sweet little film with wonderful performances and intriguing ideas. In short, I love it.
Oscar Potential: None