Bradley Cooper makes the leap to more substantial material with The Words. He stars as Rory Jansen, a struggling author who can’t seem to find his voice. When he inadvertently stumbles upon an old manuscript in a leather case he and his wife (Zoe Saldana) bought while honeymooning in Paris, Jansen is faced with a harrowing decision. Should he claim the words as his own or just relish them as a timeless piece of fiction never to be enjoyed by anyone?
Since a man’s ego will always get its way, Jansen steals the story and becomes the toast of the literary world. That is until his decision comes back to haunt him when the manuscript’s author, portrayed by the incredible Jeremy Irons, comes back to confront him. Sounds promising, right?
And it could have been had the script focused on these characters alone. Instead the film’s writers Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal opt to add another layer to the story with a third time-jumping storyline that features Dennis Quaid as an author of the aforementioned story stealing.
This confusing storyline often distracts from the gripping first and second (if you include Irons’ flashbacks) story of the price men pay for their decisions. Iron delivers an amazing performance summing the two characters’ lives up when he states, “I loved the words more than the woman who inspired me to write them.” I’m not sure what the field looks like yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear Iron’s name talked about during awards season.
The tension between Cooper and Irons could have been a film in itself as the character’s parallel choices involving the writing and the women they love could have been examined in more depth. Additionally, the film hints at great chemistry between Saldana and Cooper, which could’ve been fully realized with additional screen time.
These are merely plot suggestions to Klugman and Sternthal, who ultimately opted to overcomplicate the film leaving audiences to peel away many (unnecessary) layers. Like an onion, this film may leave you crying . . . but not because of emotional attachment more like saying WTF?!