Review: THE WORDS

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

 

I blindly went into this screening, metaphorically speaking of course. I had not seen a trailer, but the movie poster alone led me to believe that this movie was a love story geared more towards women, or in movie vernacular, a “chick flick”.  As a matter of fact, I happened to catch one of the television spots promoting the film after screening it, and the studio seems to be encouraging this image of the film.  I feel that this impression of the film is false and short sighted.   I can understand that “chick flicks” appeal to lots of female movie goers, but there is actually more to this film than the usual story elements associated with that genre.  In fact, I think this will probably deter some reluctant men who might otherwise consider watching this movie.  That said; as a non-fan of that brand of love story, I actually enjoyed this movie much more than I had anticipated and feel a bit annoyed that the studio has decided to falsely promote that angle.

The film tells a multi-layered story of the art of writing and the problems and temptations authors often face in wanting to have their voices heard and work read.  At the heart of this tale is the story of hungry and struggling writer Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper). Unable to get his work published, Jansen grudgingly accepts a grunt job at a publishing company to pay the bills.  When he and his wife Dora (Zoe Saldana) visitParis,France, Rory buys an antique brief case which he later discovers contains the work of another unpublished author.  When he submits this remarkable piece of work as his own, Rory becomes an overnight success.  Still, Jansen eventually has to face the truth and the consequences of his actions after launching a successful writing career with this act of plagiarism.

As someone who enjoys writing, this movie had me hooked.  I found the different layers largely engrossing, although one in particular left me unsatisfied, especially as it has a rather anti-climactic and pointless conclusion.  Regardless of this, I found the screenplay by Brian Clugman and Lee Sternthall, who also direct here, enthralling.  Clugman and Sternthall do some exquisite work here, considering this is their directorial debuts.  They both act in the film as well.

Speaking of acting, I liked seeing Bradley Cooper in this more dramatic role.  The movie also features Dennis Quaid as author Clay Hammond, who does some fine work here in a role that serves as narrator of the story.  Zoe Saldana is lovely, but struggles a bit in one of the more dramatic scenes. Her emotions feel slightly forced and unnatural.  Jeremy Irons delivers a phenomenal performance as “The Old Man” a gentleman who calls out Rory Jansen on his crime.

Because there is much more to this story than the usual romance clichés associated with “chick flicks” I feel this annoyance with the marketing of this film.  I feel that this movie should appeal to a broader audience than the one they are targeting.  Fans of literature and other writers should find it quite appealing.  I must recommend it for a full priced ticket.  This is the kind of film I’d rather see on a date than the usual crappy, rehashed love stories usually available in theaters.

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