The Buzz: The Words

In a movie that was produced by its star, Bradley Cooper, one would expect that the film would be worthwhile. At least, that’s what I was thinking going in to see “The Words,” which also stars Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana, and Olivia Wilde. It turns out that I was dreadfully wrong.

Walking into the theater, I couldn’t help but notice the demographics of the room. It was comprised solely of senior citizens that we’d see for the Early Bird special—and rightfully so. The movie took its painfully sweet time getting where it wanted to go. It catered to no audience’s specific pace, taking its time in order to completely communicate the intended messages. In doing this, the film sacrifices any potential for attracting young viewers—a lucrative avenue. The often excessively subtle nuances of the movie will make it difficult for teens and tweens to watch. “The Words” begins with a scene of an author Clay Hammond, played by Quaid, reading an excerpt of his novel. This is the first of many plotlines, as the film is formatted as stories within a story. The scene then shifts to dramatize the events of Hammond’s book; this is the plotline in which we see Cooper as aspiring author Rory Jansen, happily married to Saldana’s character, Dora.

In this second plotline unfolds a third story of how Rory’s plagiarized work came to be. His entire life, Rory Jansen has been working night after night to write a piece of literature at a level worth publishing. Unfortunately, his first novel is not his own. As he is catapulted into a world of both literary and commercial fame, Jansen must now deal with the mental ramifications of his choice. In this, lies are the basic essence of the film. At one point, the actual author of Jansen’s plagiarized work says to him, “We all have to make a choice; the hardest part is living with it.”

In a movie featuring many well-known actors, “The Words” disappoints. The performances of Cooper, Saldana, and Quaid failed to evoke any emotion from the audience, as if viewers were expected to be a moved by a measly tear in showing sadness or a strained smile in showing happiness. In fact, the true gems lay with the supporting roles. Jeremy Irons plays the old man and original author of Rory’s plagiarized work. Irons grips you with his shaky tone and his disheveled gaze, pouring his feelings of injustice and loss into you and making them your own. Ben Barnes plays the younger Jeremy Irons and Nora Arnezeder plays Celia, his wife. Both were surprisingly excellent in their roles. The love and losses they experience struck a powerful chord. These actors managed to evoke more emotion from the audience in their slim twenty minute slot that did any of the other A-list stars throughout the rest of the movie.