What’s the first thing that pops into your head when I describe a film as "a romantic comedy between two artists struggling to grasp a sense of reality?" Do you picture two attractive young people just out of their teens who are obsessed with taking mixed media to the next dimension? Thankfully, that terrible image is on the opposite side of the universe from Roadside Attractions’ Words and Pictures, a lovely looking rom-com starring Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche that doesn’t pander to audiences who think people over 40 don’t have cutesy relationships. (I’m still trying desperately to get Nancy Meyers’ It’s Complicated out of my head.)

The trailer seen above, via Yahoo! Movies, introduces us to Jack Marcus (Owen), a famed writer now teaching English to college students and not quite having the time of his life doing so, and Dina Delsanto, an artist who transfers to teach art classes at the same school as Jack. At first it seems like they might be on opposing sides of the same coin, as she is convinced that images speak louder than words, while he considers language to be the easiest avenue to a person’s sense of self. To make their point more widespread, they enlist their students to decide which is more important.

But this wouldn’t be much of a romantic movie if they were just a couple of squabbling adults touting their art reigns supreme. Each faces their own personal turmoil; his behavior outside of the classroom is jeopardizing his time in it, and she is struggling with arthritis which makes painting nearly impossible. And it is of course through these troubles that a bond emerges, and Jack is only so happy to have someone to wittily quibble with, while Dina breaks free from her physical restraints in order to find inspiration anew. Sparks fly. Kissy faces happen. All that.

It’s something of a change for Owen, who is most often seen in thrillers, though Words and Pictures is just the kind of quiet film that one would expect from Binoche. (Oddly enough, she’s starring in one of the loudest films of the summer, Godzilla.) It’s Six Degrees of Separation director Fred Schepisi’s follow-up to his 2011 drama The Eye of the Storm, with a script written by Gerald Di Pego, best known for the thrillers The Forgotten and Instinct. These aren’t exactly the two guys most likely to make viewers swoon with lovey emotions, but Owen and Binoche’s on screen chemistry looks more than convincing enough.

It probably isn’t surprising that this movie isn’t hitting theaters all over small town America, but larger markets can catch Words and Pictures for its limited release starting May 23.

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