Struggling writer Rory Johnson (Bradley Cooper) rockets to fame after passing off a brilliant found manuscript as his own, but experiences an acute crisis of conscience after his stint in the spotlight changes him in ways he never expected. Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, and Olivia Wilde co-star.
Film informationGenre: Drama
The Words is a movie that has gotten horrible reviews up to this point overall, but it is not quite so cut and dried. The movie is certainly complicated, cerebral and intelligent, but in the same breath it is overworked, slow and too haughty for its own good. Sometimes you look at a film and think perhaps they were trying to outsmart everyone and accidentally outsmarted themselves. One thing I will say about The Words is that it at least throws out some serious effort into making a film that is different.
The movie was released during a time when Hollywood is slowing down a bit, and it will likely limit the exposure. That could end up being a good thing for Bradley Cooper. This was a poor choice for a script to get involved with as his star is rising fast. Don’t get me wrong…Cooper does an admirable job portraying his character Rory Jansen. The character just does not provide much work with in the story. Most of his time is spent brooding and sulking. Cooper does that well, but that does not mean I wanted to watch him doing it.
The Words starts with a famous author named Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) promoting his newest novel to a group through a public reading. The book is all about Rory (Cooper) as a writer that can’t seem to break through and is questioning his own talents.
This is the first story within a story. You have Quaid’s story which is fiction, telling the story of Rory (which is fiction) and it is done via voiceovers and the like. Two stories are simultaneously being told. Tune in later for yet another story within each of these stories. (no, I am not kidding)
Rory has an awesome wife named Dora (played quite well by Zoe Saldana) and they head off to Paris for a shoestring budget honeymoon. There he finds a manuscript in an old briefcase that Dora buys for him.
Rory submits the story as his, and finds himself an overnight superstar of the literary world. He is over the moon about it and basking in the benefits until the real author shows up on the scene. He is played by Jeremy Irons and is known as the Old Man. The Old Man plays against Rory’s inner morality and then decides to tell him his life story as well.
(Here is where the third story within a story within a story begins)
Irons tells about a young soldier (Played awesomely by Ben Barnes) that falls in love during WWII with a Parisian beauty. He wrote the story down when he lost his love and then the manuscript was lost. He never wrote another story.
After leaving him with this life story, he lets Rory deal with his own guilt. Rory wrestles with the guilt and the various ways he can make the situation right.
From here, the story takes some rather obvious twists and turns. The mere fact that the movie is told within the framework of three different fictional stories is rather confusing and you can be sure you will have some problems following along. If the movie were intrinsically interesting then the complications might be worth it. As it is, the stories are tired and rather dull to be honest. That makes the payoff woefully short in comparison to the complications mentally.
The stars do a good job of playing their parts, but the parts simply are not meaty enough to pull the movie out of the depths. Irons looks like he is literally in a cheap Halloween costume with his aging makeup. There are simply some things that make no sense at all.
The Words is average at best and boring at worst.