The Words has Writing Problems

Cameron Hines

With a movie that has as many good ideas as The Words, it’s a disappointment to see the film fall short. The premise of the movie is Dennis Quaid (The Rookie), who plays an author doing a book reading of his successful book titled The Words.

The premise of the movie is Dennis Quaid (The Rookie), who plays an author doing a book reading of his successful book titled The Words.

The film switches between Quaid reading his novel/flirting with a prospective writer who continues so seek his attention (played by the always lovely Olivia Wilde) and the events of the novel he’s reading.

His novel tells the story of Rory Jansen, who is played by Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, Limitless), an aspiring writer who isn’t having any luck having his manuscripts picked up. This creates further stress on him to supply money for himself and his new wife, played by Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Pirates of the Caribbean).

Cooper, a usually likeable actor, is very dry and unlikeable in this role, and he and Saldana have little to no chemistry as a couple.

One day, his wife picks up a rustic bag for him. He discovers a mysterious manuscript that has no author, but he is transfixed by it. He submits the story as his own, and instantly receives massive commercial success and becomes a beloved book.

However, his euphoria is short lived, as the true author of the story tracks him down, played with total conviction by Jeremy Irons. Irons’ performance alone is enough to sell the movie, as he delivers a stirring, haunting performance as he recalls the events that led to him writing his story.

So yes, those of you who did your math are right; this movie becomes a story inside a story inside a story. As much as I’d like to refrain from an Inception joke, I can’t. This movie goes one layer too deep and the film enters a limbo that ultimately drags the movie down.

Cooper and Irons’ story itself is enough, but adding in Quaid’s makes the film feel cluttered, confusing, and ultimately gives the movie a dissatisfying conclusion.

It’s a shame too, because the idea of plagiarism that the film tries to address is one that’s relevant in today’s society. However, the film tries too hard to cover too many different subjects and eventually drowns itself in its own overly-convoluted structure.