The Words (a short review)
Here’s a treat. I’m going to review a film that most of you may have never heard of. Want to know why? Because, well, it wasn’t good. So, why review it then? This is for all of those Bradley Cooper fans out there. You know who you are. I’m one of them. Throw in Dennis Quaid and Jeremy Irons for good measure and I’m sold.
This is the story about a film about a story about a story about a story. You hate it already, don’t you? I was willing to give it a chance. The synopsis was intriguing enough:
A writer at the peak of his literary success discovers the steep price he must pay for stealing another man’s work.
As a writer, I was curious. I like stories about writers. Perhaps it’s the reason Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. Many of his stories involve writers. Hemingway had a knack for using writers as his protagonists. He’s my favorite author. Some of my favorite movies revolve around writers (Sunset Boulevard, Adaptation, Barton Fink). So, when my wife came home with The Words and told me what it was about, I said, “Yeah, sure!”
The Words stars Bradley Cooper as Rory Jansen. He’s a struggling young writer that doesn’t really exist. That’s right. He’s a figment of imagination. Actually, he’s a character in a book written by Clay Hammond, played by Dennis Quaid. In Hammond’s book, Rory steals another man’s story and publishes it. He is catapulted to stardom, living high on the hog. That is, until the Old Man, played by Jeremy Irons, visits him. You see, the Old Man is the one that wrote the book. He tells Rory the story behind the book. It’s filled with love, heartbreak, and death. The Old Man relives the story as he tells it and we see him as a Young Man, played by Ben Barnes. The Old Man doesn’t want anything. He only wants Cooper to know that he stole another man’s pain, expression, emotion, and art. Cooper is overcome with guilt and tries to make amends.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Hammond is trying to get in the pants of a young writer that is a big fan. She wants to know more about the story. Hammond tells her.
Rory finds the Old Man again and tries to give him money. The Old Man tells him that it doesn’t matter. You can’t fix things; they just are. Rory leaves the Old Man, who dies a few weeks later, and continues to ride the wave of success.
Back at the ranch, the hot young wannabe writer doesn’t believe the ending. She wants to know the real ending. Hammond, in a drunken fit, demands that she tell him what the real ending is. She tries to leave, but he won’t let her off that easy. She reluctantly agrees to continue the story, making subtle suggestions that the story is really about Hammond. He kisses her, but pulls away. He tells her that it’s just a story then flashbacks of Rory zip across the screen. The end.
Needless to say, I was not impressed. I turned and looked at my wife and said, “You’re not allowed to pick movies anymore.”
The Words was released in 2012 to little fanfare. I never heard of it until last night. One would think that a film starring Cooper, Quaid, and Irons would garner a little attention from the theaters. Well, apparently, story does still matter, because that is the only thing that is wrong with this shiny turd.
The acting was excellent. It should be. The three named individuals above are wonderful actors. However, nothing could save this bowl of mash potatoes called a script. Olivia Wilde, Zoe Saldana, and Nora Arnezeder co-star in the film and performed very well, but they, too, could do little to help this yawning competition. The screenplay was written by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. Their only other feature film writing credit is Story by for the latest Tron movie. Klugman and Sternthal also directed the film. Yes, they directed it together.
The story acts like it has a purpose. Cooper makes his character interesting. Quaid is there, but there isn’t enough subtext to get what the movie is trying to say across. Barnes has the most interesting part of the film, but it’s too little too late. Irons was my favorite, but his part was also too little too late. The faux motif of the film never comes to life and when it ends, it just ends. It was like eating a meal that neither tasted good or filled you up.
So, ladies, and some gentlemen, don’t fall for the ol’ “Hey, I like these actors” trick. This film isn’t worth the time. If you are a false intellectual then you might like it. That’s an insult, by the way. You want to watch an artsy fartsy movie that’s good, rent a Johnny Depp film or pick up The Third Man by Orson Welles.
Two thumbs down and a fart for The Words.