The Words (2012)

The Words
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Coarse language

Directors: Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal
Actors: Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid, John Hannah, Michael McKean, J.K. Simmons, Olivia Wilde, Ben Barnes, Nora Arnezeder, Zeljko Ivanek

The Words follows young writer Rory Jansen who finally achieves long sought after literary success after publishing the next great American novel. There's only one catch - he didn't write it. As the past comes back to haunt him and his literary star continues to rise, Jansen is forced to confront the steep price that must be paid for stealing another man's work, and for placing ambition and success above life's most fundamental three words

DVD
Status: QuickPick
Run time: 97mins
Origin: UNITED STATES
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Writer's block
by Simon Miraudo,

Literary soapie The Words is mutton dressed as bespectacled lamb. Just because it looks like smarthouse fare doesn’t mean it is, and the proof is entirely in the plodding pudding. It’s the type of self-serious movie where people plaintively peer off into the distance and are asked by their loved ones, “Where’d you go?” It features characters who fall over themselves to cheer on great writers, yet when we actually get to hear their prose read aloud, it is fully of hacky, dime-store descriptive nuggets as, “He liked cheap wine.” Writer-directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal’s feature debut tells of books within books, but just when their elaborate house of cards should collapse on the head of the conflicted protagonist, they pack up their things politely and go home. It’s all very inoffen...

Literary soapie The Words is mutton dressed as bespectacled lamb. Just because it looks like smarthouse fare doesn’t mean it is, and the proof is entirely in the plodding pudding. It’s the type of self-serious movie where people plaintively peer off into the distance and are asked by their loved ones, “Where’d you go?” It features characters who fall over themselves to cheer on great writers, yet when we actually get to hear their prose read aloud, it is fully of hacky, dime-store descriptive nuggets as, “He liked cheap wine.” Writer-directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal’s feature debut tells of books within books, but just when their elaborate house of cards should collapse on the head of the conflicted protagonist, they pack up their things politely and go home. It’s all very inoffensive, and passes the time without much complaint. However, a movie about the price one pays for great art – and that suggests ambition in its storytelling style – shouldn’t be so content to be this middle-brow.

Bradley Cooper plays an unpublished author just as he did in Limitless. He looks like no writer I’ve ever seen, successful or otherwise, so why he keeps getting cast in these parts is beyond me. His Rory Jansen is desperate to get his work out into the world, but no publisher will touch it. When he chances upon a magnificent manuscript hidden within the stitching of an old French document purse, he’s compelled to pass it off as his own, particularly when his wife Dora (Zoe Saldana) admits how bewitching she found it. Several years later, Rory is the toast of the New York elite, and confronted by an old man (Jeremy Irons) who claims to be the true author of his acclaimed work. This is the end of Part One.

Or, at least, the end of Part One of Clay Hammond’s (Dennis Quaid) new book. The tale told in the previous paragraph is read aloud by Clay at a signing for his upcoming tome, The Words. Intermittently, he leaves to flirt with intelligentsia groupie Daniella (Olivia Wilde), hinting that he may in fact be the ‘Rory Jansen’ he’s written about. Part Two of his public reading involves the old man retelling how his story came to be. Part Three takes place in Clay’s apartment, with Daniella keen to hear how the story ends, as well as how the esteemed author might have been inspired to pen it.

The cast has been finely assembled; if no one is quite transcendent enough to elevate the material, they’re never worse than the lines they’re given to recite. The structure is only compelling in that the multiple threads keep interrupting one another; it builds not a sense of excitement or gradually increasing intensity and intrigue, but frustration that all these plots keep stepping over one another. And though it’s a long-known requirement that films must show and not tell, the talents of all the authors involved are proven to be less-than when we actually hear their precious words recited. Ah, the words. Any question as to why this picture has been titled thusly will be most certainly answered by the rolling of the end credits, with every character being given plenty of opportunities to extol the virtue of ‘the words,’ whatever they may be. One thing is for certain: they can’t be referring to the script.

2.5/5

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Member Reviews (28)

Excellent storyllne. Ending unsatisfactory though
Posted Thursday, 12 December 2013 See my other reviews
Annette
says
One of the best screen plays I have seen in ages. So many angles and outcomes that have been left to the viewers imagination to interpret. Great acting and so original in an age of so many remakes and sequels.
Posted Thursday, 21 November 2013 See my other reviews
Gareth
says
Quite enjoyable film with a good tale. Such a pity that the DVD kept on stalling throughout the film.
Posted Monday, 7 October 2013 See my other reviews
McLovin
says
Enthralling story, but not sure what happens in the end. I don't like Zoe Saldana's character at all, is that supposed to happen? I enjoyed it, but feel as though I've been left hanging somewhat...
Posted Wednesday, 2 October 2013 See my other reviews
Faye
says
Interesting multi-layered story within a story about plagiarism. Could've done without the Dennis Quaid storyline but I guess it added another dimension to the film. The ending was a little disppointing, expected a different ending...
Posted Thursday, 12 September 2013 See my other reviews
Terry
says
Very nice, worth a sunday afternoon watch.
Posted Monday, 9 September 2013 See my other reviews
HILLY
says
Worth the watch!
Posted Tuesday, 27 August 2013 See my other reviews
Ron & Sharon
says
It's a movie about a guy who wrote a book about a guy who wrote a book about a guy who wrote a book. No, I'm not stuttering; that's what it is about. A guy (Quaid) writes a book about a guy (Cooper) who "wrote" a book that was actually written by another guy about his life (Irons). The whole thing with the flirting bimbo is weird, & the ending is ambiguous, but perhaps the last two words of the script is in fact Quaids' characters' epiphany of his own marital issues. Maybe the guy who wrote the book about the guy who wrote the book about the guy who wrote the book has in fact written a book about his own life. Stranger things have happened. I'd give it three stars, my wife says its only worth 2.
Posted Saturday, 20 July 2013 See my other reviews
Senorita K
says
Quite a good movie. Message quite strong " you have to live with your actions/chooses"
Posted Friday, 19 July 2013 See my other reviews
AJ
says
Not particularly original and ultimately a thin script about interlaced lives from different eras (some of them fictional...or are they?). Irons is great but his accent is a bit strange. Quaid and Wilde were cheesy and completely unsexy together (a bit strange given they were flirting with each other the whole time). Cooper and Saldana (as the main 'couple' whose story we follow) just didn't gel and their acting is suspect, especailly Saldan who seems to think frustration and anger is best relayed by touching your forehead repeatedly. I didn't give a hoot what happened to any of them. A sudden, dramatic ending that just left me feeling cheated. Not completely awful but nothing special.
Posted Monday, 1 July 2013 See my other reviews
Belinda Jane
says
Didn't really excite me. Jeremy Irons cannot pretend to be American. He slips in and out of accent.
Posted Wednesday, 19 June 2013 See my other reviews
Adam
says
Only few words comes to mind and that's BORING, C**P. I hate movies that just end
Posted Tuesday, 18 June 2013 See my other reviews
I loved it, definatley worth watching
Posted Friday, 14 June 2013 See my other reviews
stanarosa
says
slow but ok
Posted Tuesday, 11 June 2013 See my other reviews
Regan
says
Boring.
Posted Friday, 31 May 2013 See my other reviews
Livingwell13
says
I enjoyed this movie. It kept me in my seat for the whole two hours. It's interesting to see how people deal with things that they do wrong. I loved the way the movie twisted and turned and a few people have said that they didn't like the ending much, but I thought it was great. It still sort of keeps you guessing, but you really know what happens. I thought it was an entertaining and clever movie.
Posted Wednesday, 22 May 2013 See my other reviews
Stacy
says
Really enjoyed this movie. Found the ending a bit disappointing but overall worth watching.
Posted Wednesday, 15 May 2013 See my other reviews
case
says
I enjoyed it, ending could have been stronger but it was a goos story and well acted
Posted Friday, 3 May 2013 See my other reviews
jc
says
Very clever, a story within a story within a story - well acted and designed as a movie but there was something missing for me. All the way through I had the feeling that I'd seen this before. As soon as it ended I looked up movie remakes - there was a book (2004) made into movie (2009) from Germany, called Lila Lila, with almost the same story but I have seen it or read that book. The writers of this claimed they had the story idea in 1999, which would have been about the time the German writer thought about it - so to me, there is this added mystery to the movie now. I my mind I have seen this movie in 1940s era black and white, so I'll keep looking. I think it's worth 3 stars because it is entertaining.
Posted Monday, 29 April 2013 See my other reviews
John
says
I struggled to finish this. Zoe Saldana seems to be comfortable playing roles opposite Bradley Cooper and thats nice. Why Jeremy Irons has to try on accents all the time Im not sure. He was much better 30 off years ago in 'The Mission' with De Niro... back then he was raw and pure and immensely and immesurably better than how he is now. He's a great actor but his work of late (And as he has aged) had not had the quality of wine. 2/5
Posted Saturday, 27 April 2013 See my other reviews
Kimbo
says
This film is about a young struggling writer who makes it big with a manuscript that he did not write. "The Words" tells the tale of a struggling writer who has to face moral choices after stealing a manuscript. Bradley Cooper carries the role well, and he portrays the internal struggle very well. It is a welcomed change that Bradley Cooper portrays a serious and emotionally tormented role. The scene of his attempt to rectify things in the greenhouse is haunting. Zoe Saldana shines as well as the supportive wife, her plethora of emotions is so natural and convincing. They make a good on screen couple. The Bradley Cooper subplot is quite predictable, but the connection between Bradley Cooper and Dennis Quaid is not immediately apparent. This extra layer gives "The Words" more depth. I think "The Words" has many fine performances, and deserves to be seen.
Posted Tuesday, 9 April 2013 See my other reviews
While I enjoyed the movie, I kinda felt that it was all for no point. I have no sympathy for people who repent for their sins only after they have been found out
Posted Thursday, 14 March 2013 See my other reviews
Cairo49
says
Definitely watchable and well acted, but kinda pointless - not helped by the ending
Posted Friday, 8 March 2013 See my other reviews
Kristina
says
An interesting and thoughtful movie, very well acted and it kept me guessing. The only problem I had was the ending, I either missed something along the way or it was one of those endings that make very little sense.
Posted Tuesday, 5 March 2013 See my other reviews
Harlowe
says
A very clever concept and story. Good acting throughout.
Posted Sunday, 3 March 2013 See my other reviews
Jordi
says
A very good movie, a good story, perhaps a little bit slow in some parts, but definitely it is worth
Posted Sunday, 3 March 2013 See my other reviews
paul o
says
A good movie.Worth a watch.
Posted Saturday, 2 March 2013 See my other reviews
JS
says
An enjoyable movie. This DVD was not in the Hearing impaired queue but fortunately it did have subtitles. Worth watching 6/10
Posted Wednesday, 27 February 2013 See my other reviews