Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Movie Review - The Words

I work with words everyday, so I was truly interested in a movie called “The Words.”

But then I saw it.  What’s it about?  Honestly, I’m not really sure.
Here is how CBS Films, the movie's distributor, describes "The Words" in a recent press release:

"Starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde and Zoë Saldana, the layered romantic drama "The Words" follows young writer Rory Jansen who finally achieves long sought after literary success after publishing the next great American novel. There's only one catch - he didn't write it.
As the past comes back to haunt him and his literary star continues to rise, Jansen is forced to confront the steep price that must be paid for stealing another man's work, and for placing ambition and success above life's most fundamental three words."

As far as I can figure it out, “The Words” is a movie about a man who wrote a book about a man who wrote a book stolen from another man.

Make sense?  I’ll see if I can clear it up.
In the movie, esteemed author Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) is giving a reading from his hit novel, “The Words.” His book is about a fledgling writer by the name of Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) and Jansen’s new wife, Dora (Zoe Saldana), and the antique briefcase they find in a Paris shop while on their honeymoon. Back home in New York, Jansen’s writing career appears to be floundering, so he takes a job in the mailroom of a major literary agency. Sometime later, unbeknown to Dora, Jansen discovers a yellowed novel manuscript hidden in a secret pocket of the briefcase. Jansen is so taken with the old novel that he can’t get it off his mind.

In a moment of runaway obsession Jansen retypes the story into his laptop computer. He never intended to steal the work, but he doesn’t know how to deal with what he’s done when Dora finds and reads the amazing old tale, set in post-World War II France of romance, sorrow and regret.  She talks him into submitting it to one of the agents at the firm, and of course the man loves it. From there, life becomes a whirlwind of adulation, acclaim and awards that Jansen just can’t escape from.

Unfortunately, though, it turns out that the novel’s original author (Jeremy Irons in a powerful unnamed role) is still alive, and the old man is taking note of Jansen’s success.

But remember, this is all part of Clay Hammond’s novel and is fictitious – or is it?

Clear as mud, right?  Ok, here are the good points and the bad points, as I see them ...


It was a beautifully shot film, especially the post-war Paris scenes.
The actors, for the most part, did a fairly good job. Jeremy Irons was absolutely terrific and I see his role in this movie as a potential Oscar-worthy performance.

Ben Barnes was excellent in his role as the "Young  man" to Irons' "Old man" character.


The story has some severe pacing problems and plot issues that just can’t be overlooked. It almost feels as if two different movies were cut together from three different storylines.
The presence of Olivia Wilde, as a kind of author’s groupie, just added more questions to an already questionable premise.
Dennis Quaid is just downright creepy in his role as Clay Hammond.  He has a lecherous, nearly manic gleam in his eye in his few appearances, and he almost turns violent at the end.  Wierd and icky.
Bradley Cooper - meh!  Not a big fan of him in the first place, and he didn't win me over in this role either.  (does the man ever shave???)

The ending left me wondering "what the heck did I just see here?"  It was almost like they broke for a commercial, and I sat there waiting for the show to come back with the real ending.


I had high hopes for “The Words.” But when I left the theatre I came up with several endings that would have been much stronger and made more sense than the way the movie actually kind of slows to a dismal halt.
Final Verdict:
Save your theatre-going money on this one and wait for the DVD.  Maybe the special features will have outtakes that explains some of the gaps in the film - one can hope!

I was not compensated for my opinion featured here regarding this movie.
Photos and plot summary courtesy of CBS Films.


  1. Oh shoot, I had such high hopes for this movie when I saw the ads. It's still on my list to see, but maybe I'll wait for the DVD.

  2. Hi Beth - thanks for stopping by!

    Yes, I was disappointed too - I was hoping it would be great - but it was kind of a dud!