The Words

The Window Tears


07 September 2012| No Comments on The Words     by Sean Chavel



Four layers of absorbing story that’s asking us to care a little too much. The Words will most likely affect penniless writers and artists out there who can relate to Bradley Cooper’s (“Limitless”) struggles to get recognized. Of course, out of impatience, he commits great sin to claim his success. Now, if you’re going to cast an old man to crash in and inform him that he’s a cheat, why not get Jeremy Irons? Also, Zoe Saldana is effective as the girlfriend who believes in her man’s integrity. This sincere, heartfelt melodrama has moments of truth. But it’s also strewn in unnecessary hullabaloo that pulls you out of the drama.

The entire time, Cooper’s author phenomenon character Rory Jansen must be either a fictional creation, or he is Dennis Quaid’s character as a young man. You see, the movie uses the framework device of Quaid, as Clay Hammond, giving an exclusive reading of his new book at a lecture hall. He holds his crowd in a thrall as the “flashback” scenes tell Rory Jansen’s story, but of course, Hammond could be talking about himself.

More back story following the lecture hall reading. Quaid gets amicably interrogated by a student played by Olivia Wilde, in a cake of foundation makeup, whose only purpose to the movie is to serve as a catalyst to Quaid’s guilt. The movie also goes far back, through Irons’ Hemingway-esque voice-over, to Paris 1944 for which events served as the source content for the Hammond novel. The movie has a gliding storybook feel in its technique, almost dreamy, yet it spends a little too much time in 1944.

I’m not exactly sure I’ve done justice to “The Words.” The movie is at the same time better than it sounds, and also not good enough. Basically our hearts and attention are with Cooper (effective if unexceptional), the middlebrow guy, making a reckless unethical decision to steal someone’s manuscript – making it his own – and living the incessant fraught guilt of being an everyday fraud. We did not need this framework with Quaid as the veteran scribe looking back, living in shame. But the movie held my attention and inspired thoughts about the nature of literary creativity.

97 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989); “Movern Callar” (2002); “Match Point” (2005); “You Will Meet a Talk Dark Stranger” (2010).


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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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