The Words

DIRECTORS: Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal

CAST: Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons, Ben Barns, Ron Rifkin, Olivia Wilde


RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes


Bradley Cooper is so totally the it boy at the moment. Nominated for an Oscar and winning awards for rom-com Silver Linings Playbook, he is all over the local circuit at the moment.

He’s already signed up for another David Russell production (the director of Silver Linings Playbook) and there’s yet another Hangover movie in the works as well. Next up though it’s The Words (and later this year we’ll get The Place Beyond the Pines plus there’s another film in the pipeline, Serena) which will get noticed simply because he is in it.

That and because of his eyes – as Zoe Saldana’s character points out, Cooper does have the most beautiful, piercing blue eyes.

In The Words he plays a mix of his initially ineffective Limitless and good-guy Alias characters, novelist Rory Jansen.

The film is actually enacted as a story within a story about a third story. We start with author Clay Hammond (Quaid) reading his latest novel to an audience and then fall into the story itself, with Rory being the protaganist novelist who steals an unnamed man’s book and makes it his own.

Rory’s novel turns out to be a major success, but an existential crises of conscience, sparked by the original author’s appearance, sets the young man off on a different path. Or maybe not.

Not enough time is spent developing Rory’s character beyond this point to really impress upon the audience what exactly is going on.

The storyline itself is overly complicated and populated with potentially intriguing characters, but it doesn’t exactly give you a chance to emotionally connect with any of them.

The directors rely too much on the melodrama inherent in the whole idea of an author in the grips of a moral struggle to allow Cooper, or any of them, to make a decision.

Maybe it is Clay’s actual story, or maybe it is not – not enough time is spent with that character to get to grips with whether he is even real. Ben Barnes, as the younger version of Jeremy Irons’ character, the original author, starts creating a potentially compelling character, and then he disappears.

Switching between three different settings for three different narratives does not make for a cohesive story, despite it all supposedly being one interconnected whole, like a Matryoshka doll (Russian nesting dolls).

Ultimately, the film is aptly named as it is a whole lot of words that don’t go anywhere.

A shame really, since it is a collection of solid actors who deserved a stronger script and not direction by committee from first-time directors whose previous claim to fame was to help co-write Tron: Legacy.

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