The Words (2012) review
‘Words’ tells boring story, 1.5/5 stars
Todd Miller | Collegio Writer
It must be the slow time of year at the theaters when they start showing movies about a book, about a book. Not in the creative “House of Leaves” sort of way, but in a dull, derivative way that makes for an uninteresting movie.
“The Words” is about author Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid). Well, not really. The movie is about his book “The Words,” which is about Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper), a wannabe author that discovers an old novel manuscript in an antique bag bought in Paris. Rory types up the manuscript, and his wife Dora (Zoe Saldana) finds it, and pushes him into publishing the story, believing it is his own work. Rory sells the manuscript, and the novel is a huge success.Shortly after an awards ceremony, Rory meets an old man (Jeremy Irons), who tells him that he is the original author of the book. He doesn’t seek revenge, or ask for money; rather, he simply wanted to tell Rory who he was, and the tragic story that led him to write the manuscript. Wracked with guilt, Rory must determine whether to continue living the lie, make amends with the old (unnamed, by the way) man, or come out to the world as a fraud.
Meanwhile, in the framing device, Clay Hammond has a discussion with student writer, Daniella (Olivia Wilde), who wants to learn more about the author.
The number of layers in the movie is ridiculous. The major framing device, with Clay and Daniella, is worthless. It creates a frame for the movie that it doesn’t need. Further, it tries to be dramatic at the end, but I didn’t care because Clay had no impact on the story itself, meaning anything to do with him was worthless.
However, because they included the framing device, I couldn’t get into the main story about Rory because I thought I was supposed to focus on Clay. When act two of the movie hit, it went right back to Rory. Well, not exactly. Most of act two is the old man telling his life story to Rory. It was a story, within a story, within a movie. I would give this part of the movie some credit because I enjoyed the old man’s story. However, it was buried so deep in layers that we barely scratched the surface of good detail.
Overall, the movie has little sustenance. It is so dull that I couldn’t get out of the theater fast enough when it was over. The ending was not worth the wait it took to get there.
The film’s failings are entirely in the story. I think the directors did well considering what they were given, and the actors all performed admirably. I enjoyed Jeremy Irons’ performance as the old man and Ben Barnes’ performance as the old man’s younger self, which is probably why I favored their section of the movie.
If you want to see good acting struggle through a weak story, then “The Words” may be worth looking into. It saves the rest of the movie from being written off as a failure. Still, the story is shallow and hardly worth clinging to. “The Words” was the only new movie to come out last weekend, so it’s worth your time to see something else or wait for the fall movie season to deliver something better.