I love a complex movie.
But it’s no fun when a movie about literature can’t decide what genre it’s supposed to fall into. The Words tries to be a romantic drama, fantasy and thriller, though falls flat in all of these realms. Thank goodness both of the leads are extremely nice to look at.
Bradley Cooper plays unsuccessful author Rory Jansen. One day Rory has the good fortune to find an anonymous manuscript (a really good one) and submits it as his own work (a really bad idea). The novel is published, earning him fame, wealth and a new friend: the actual author of the book. From there, the audience follows Rory deeper into the world of the real author — known as the Old Man — and finds out a few crucial things about himself along the way.
This all sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Though the movie does not share the same tone as Secret Window, it does share many plot elements. I won’t spoil it for you, but you’ll recognize many of the tropes found in Secret Window, mashed with the surprisingly charming Stranger Than Fiction, both of which are much better films (and not confused about what genres they belong to).
Add romance into the complicated storyline and the movie starts to feel like a story-within a story-within a story. At least the romantic lead is played by Zoe Saldana, a great actress with enough on-screen charisma to grab your attention and make you forget the other parts of the film — at least for a little while.
The Words is a nice little getaway movie if you’ve got a couple hours to kill, but don’t read too deeply into it. Frank Lovece from Newsday put it best: “Romanticized claptrap.”
I would add “… with twists, turns and high cheekbones.”
Tags: Bradley Cooper, movie review, The Words