When it all comes down to it, life is just a choice between words and fiction, or at least that’s how Dennis Quaid sees it. Now at this point, many of you are thinking, “Wait, I thought The Words was that movie with Bradley Cooper!” It is, don’t worry.
The trick with Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal’s The Words is that you never really know what the real story is. After all you have the heart of the film (Cooper and Zoe Saldana), the flashback story (Ben Barnes and Nora Arnezeder), and the present day story (Quaid and Olivia Wilde). After 96 minutes of transitioning between each of the three, with the least amount of time spent on Quaid’s portion before the last 10 minutes, it sometimes is hard to get a real grasp of what is going in. After all, it is a story within a story, within a story.
The premise is that Rory Jansen (Cooper) is a struggling young writer whose youthfulness keeps getting brought up despite the fact that he looks like he is in his 40’s, and he just can’t quite seem to catch a break…that is until he finds an unmarked manuscript within an old satchel in a Paris boutique. Ultimately, Jansen decides to publish the story under his name, which ultimately leads to a successful career for him, until the old man played by Jeremy Irons pays him a visit.
The old man tells Jansen his own story of a life post-World War II in Paris, which ends up being his own life story, and how a young man came across his lost manuscript and published it as his own.
There is something to be said not only about the acting chops of both Cooper and Irons, but of the pair’s chemistry together as well. Both of the actor’s can hold their own in a scene, and if nothing else The Words proves that Bradley Cooper can carry a movie under his name that doesn’t have the word “hangover” in the title.
Ultimately, The Words puts together a beautiful score by Marcelo Zarvos along with some moments of truly great cinematography. The film is honest with its viewers from the get go, telling people sometimes they just have to accept their own limitations, which is something Jansen struggled with throughout the film. It finds itself being clever, but not too overstated.
What The Words creates in sentimentality and beauty, it lacks in its pacing. For a movie just over an hour and a half, it feels like two hours. It may be the transitioning between the three storylines, or it may be the constantly (beautiful) slow-moving score.
Truth be told, The Words is worth the ticket price as long as you don’t go in expecting anything from it. The less people know, the better. As soon as it starts to pick up, something drags it back down. Whether it’s Zoe Saldana (Avatar) and her easily replaceable acting, or Dennis Quaid’s dark and twisted plot, the two do not do the film any good by being in it. The true gem is Irons’ dedication to playing a man who has lived a full life of pain. If for nothing else, he alone is worth a look.
Check out The Words opening September 7.