Title: The Words

Directors: Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal

It’s more than words (good song by the way), but not by much…

Writers, this story is mainly for you. Yet The Words does have the ability to penetrate other ponderous topics, and therefore, minds, as well.

Going with the old story-within-a-story delivery, the engrossing 96 minutes almost becomes too short. You’re left wanting more and perhaps the co-writing/directing team of Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal should have given us some.

It’s not that it is one of those endings that end abruptly; it just was laced with many subtle symbolic metaphors that you kind of wish you had the rewind button available in the theater to go back and process the closing moments a couple more times. The feeling of leaving audiences with wanting more can usually act as a beneficial tactic. But this time around, it really depends on how strongly the material grips you prior to the final pages, for there could be a feeling of incompleteness upon reaching the back cover.

Renowned author Dennis Quaid is reading his latest lauded work to a bunch of adoring fans at a private function. The fictionalized book is about a struggling young writer, Bradley Cooper, who is trying so hard to achieve his dream of getting published. By his side since their college days is Zoe Saldana, and together they’re just skating by on a tight budget – with the occasional monthly check from Cooper’s father (J.K. Simmons).

Starting to have doubts about his talent and not understanding why he can’t get to where he wants in life, Cooper takes a risk and “writes” a piece that makes all his desires come true. Everything begins to fall into place for him. That is, until a story from an ominous older man (Jeremy Irons) turns his new world upside-down.

Meanwhile, Quaid more-or-less narrates the above synopsis of his story in two parts (acts for the film). Between his two part readings, he meets an entranced lady (Olivia Wilde). She is fascinated, almost in a stalker-like way, by his career, and urges him to tell the final part of his novel as the function concludes.

Although two-three paragraphs were just written about the synopsis of this flick, you probably are still wondering what this is all about…

Basically, the theme and/or point the writers wanted to get across can be found in Jeremy Irons’ narrative/dialogue as the connection between he and Cooper’s character are revealed. The screenplay is telling three stories and devotes an ample amount of “flashback time” to each, with Cooper’s and Irons’ carrying this. Getting back to Irons’ portion, when he starts talking to Cooper on a Central Park bench, the setting shifts to 1940s Paris, as Irons reflects back on his life and why it has brought him to this moment with Cooper. At this point, Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian from the Chronicles of Narnia sequels) portrays a twenty-something Irons and takes part in a brisk love story with the one that got away (Nora Arnezeder speaking more with expressions than words).

So here’s the film outline: Act I is Quaid introducing Cooper and Saldana’s situation and what Cooper had to endure to achieve his writing goals. Act II opens up with Cooper meeting a broken-down Irons, and post-World War II tragic love story then takes over the screen. Act III, the reveal – which could be obvious unless you fall for the subtle misdirection (Ahem, Hemingway sign), is how Cooper and Irons move forward and this meshes together with Quaid and Wilde having an in-depth conversation about what all his literary characters symbolize.

It’s kind of like taking Inception and substituting out the dream angle and putting literature in its place. Kind of.

Overall, The Words are placed in the proper order right up until the final act. The question of how to end, specifically, maintain the engaging level this started out at, needed to go through a few more drafts. Having said that, the delivery is thoughtful and the performances are solid enough to have you keep turning the pages.

And that concludes all my book metaphors.

Technical: C+

Story: B

Acting: B+

Overall: B

The Words
Cooper and Irons having one of the many “lessons in life” chats.

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By Joe Belcastro

Joe Belcastro is an established movie critic in Tampa, Florida. As a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle, most of his time is spent reviewing upcoming movies. He also covers news pertaining to the film industry, on both a local and national level as well as conducting interviews. To contact Joe Belcastro regarding a story or with general questions about his services, please e-mail him and/or follow him on Twiiter @TheWritingDemon.

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