Although the plot set-up in The Words is not the best, the story still will manage to intrigue and fascinate you. The actors all are excellent in their roles, with Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Irons giving standout performances, and its instrumental-based music helps to underscore the film as well. That being said, the movie would have been stronger had the Dennis Quaid/Olivia Wilde portion been removed by letting the story stand on its own two feet rather than revolving around a narrator, and an inconsistent narrator at that.
The film opens where Clay Hammond (Quaid), a writer, is being honored for his book, The Words. As he is reading the beginning of the novel, we see Daniella (Wilde) slip into the audience unnoticed, riveted by his speech. The movie then immediately shows us the scene Clay is reading: the two characters in the book, Rory (Cooper) and his wife Dora (Zoe Saldana), running through the rain to catch their limo. It then jumps back five years, when Rory and Dora were dating and Rory was trying to be a full-time writer, though he hadn’t yet sold his first book. He asks his father (J.K. Simmons) for help with expenses for one more month and his father reluctantly gives it to him, saying that this will be the last time and that Rory should get a real job.
After shopping his book around, Rory does get a real job, at an agency, where he hopes to one day pitch his book to an agent. Meanwhile, he saves some money, and he and Dora get married, and go to Paris on their honeymoon (working at an agency as a mailroom attendant must pay more than we thought!). While in an antique shop of sorts there, he sees an old leather satchel in a shop, and loves it; Dora ends up buying it for him as a gift.
Later, when they are back in the U.S., Rory is putting some papers in the satchel and he sees there are some papers already in one of its folds. He takes them out and realizes it’s a novel; he then, for whatever reason, types out the novel in its entirety on his computer; the narrator said he “just wanted to feel the words coming out of his fingers.” Dora sees the novel open on the computer and thinks he wrote it, and she encourages Rory to show it to an agent; Rory does, and neglects to tell neither Dora nor the agent that it is not his writing.
Technically the narrator of this story is Clay (Quaid), whose voice interjects here and there throughout Rory’s portion of the film. I believe that the filmmakers wanted us to care about both Rory/Dora and Clay, but I found myself becoming irritated every time the narrative jumped back to Clay and what was playing out in “real life.” Near the end of the film we find out that him writing the novel and having an encounter with Olivia Wilde’s character does have a purpose; however, I would have preferred it if they had just had Cooper’s portion be the actual story. I will admit, though, that the ending does bring up a lot of “What if?” questions that tend to keep an audience thinking about a movie long after it’s over.
Yes, definitely see this film. The ending was definitely intriguing, even though the parts with Quaid/Wilde were a little strange, but the movie does an excellent job of making you care about the main characters in the book that Quaid’s character has written, including Cooper, Saldana, Irons, and the others involved in their story. This movie really shows off Cooper’s abilities as well, and we see that he’s not just a pretty face, though anyone who used to watch the TV show Alias would know that he’s great in other roles too. Jeremy Irons was also very, very good in his role, as the old man who has a reason for seeking out Cooper’s character, and the decisions Irons’ character made as a young man set off the entire chain of events on which Quaid’s story is based.
The Words is currently in theater, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 97 minutes.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5