Thursday, October 23, 2014

“Words and Pictures”: What It Means To Love And Be In Love When You Have RA

I recently rented and watched “Words and Pictures”.

For those who don’t know, “Words and Pictures” is a film starring Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen.  In the film, Juliette Binoche’s character has RA.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, this may be the first movie ever to feature a main character that has RA (

I’ve never seen a portrayal of RA like this before.  It was so accurate, almost too real.

There were outward manifestations of RA, such as the use of a cane and crutches, and wrist guards.

There were also the more inward manifestations of RA.  Watching Juliette Binoche’s character fight internal frustration and what she was not able to do, or having to call her sister to come help her undress, really brought RA home. 

Juliette Binoche’s character is shown having difficulty undoing buttons.  At one point, she takes out a mallet to open a prescription bottle, sending pills seemingly everywhere. 

Haven’t most of us with RA been there before?  I remember one time, I was ready to throw a jar of pasta sauce at the wall because I couldn’t get the lid off of it.   

At times, I found it difficult to watch Juliette Binoche’s character struggle with some of the same things I struggle with.  It reinforces the idea about what healthy people take for granted in their everyday lives, and what many of us with RA lament that we can no longer do, and long to be able to do again. 

In the movie, though, Binoche’s character, an artist, is forced to adapt her tools and instruments so that she can continue to paint, despite not being able to hold a paintbrush with her hand.

This adaptation is pretty amazing to watch. 

In the movie, it is made abundantly clear that Jack Marcus (Clive Owen) loves Dina DelSanto (Juliette Binoche), RA and all.  They are both slaves to their art, and they are both rough around the edges.  Both of these characters are deeply flawed, and at times a bit frustrating to watch.

There was a point in the movie that I found particularly poignant.  The first time that the two characters are becoming intimate, Juliette Binoche tells Clive Owen he has to be careful of her body.

When Clive Owen told Juliette Binoche, “You just have to tell me what hurts, where, and how much,” I cried.  I literally shed tears. 

To me, that was the biggest lesson in the movie.  Yes, it portrayed a main character with RA for possibly the first time ever. 

But it also underscored that you can love and be loved despite having a chronic and debilitating illness like RA. 

The San Francisco Gate called the movie “odd and thought-provoking,” and it truly is both of those things (

It’s also kind of amazing to see someone like me in film.  That so rarely happens, and the power of that shouldn’t be underestimated. 

I don’t think this movie is for everyone.  The story felt a little clumsy at times.  And I watched it alone, which was good.  I don’t think my boyfriend would have liked it.  And I’m not sure that someone who doesn’t have RA can really understand or comprehend or appreciate the significance of the illness, despite the fact that this film features a  main character suffers from it. 

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post! I'll have to rent/download the movie. And yes, I'll probably watch it when my husband is traveling.