Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘The Words’ Review: A Unique, Captivating Story

“The Words” tells the story of three men: Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper), a young man (Ben Barnes) and Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid). Directors and writers Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal start by introducing us to Rory, then slowly start to weave in the stories of the other men as the film progresses. Though some people might think this tact makes the film confusing, I liked it and it made the film different.

Rory Jansen (Cooper) is a struggling novelist. He’s taken his manuscripts to several publishers, but they all say it’s just not the right time for this book (a.k.a. it sucks). Rory moves in with Dora (the lovely Zoe Saldana), the two eventually get married and honeymoon in France. While in France, Dora buys Rory a vintage leather satchel that he can use for work. When Rory gets home, he opens up the satchel and discovers a manuscript in a side pocket. He begins to read the worn-out manuscript and falls in love with the story.

Rory stays up all night, types out the story word-for-word on his laptop, saves it, and goes to bed. The next day, Dora looks at his laptop and reads the story in full, obviously thinking her husband wrote it. She persuades him to show it to a publisher and when he does, they automatically love it and sign Rory. Obviously, things go wrong when you steal another man’s work, sometimes you get caught.

Cooper does an amazing job with the role as the writer living a lie and carries the film quite well. Who really impressed me in this movie was Ben Barnes, playing the “young man” in the flashback story. Barnes plays the younger version of the “old man,” played by Jeremy Irons (yes, it’s a bit confusing), and with little dialogue he really captures the stress and loneliness of the character and I felt for him in his scenes.

Yes, there is a lot going on in “The Words,” and the story seems a but far-fetched, but I liked the layering of the stories between the three men and how they all connected to one another. I like the fact that the film made me think and that it didn’t wrap up into a little bow at the end.

“The Words” lost me about 3/4 of the way through, where the intertwining of the stories became too much and I wanted to get to the end sooner rather than later.

“The Words” is marketed as “romantic,” “provocative,” and “thrilling,” and it’s really none of these. It’s a film about a man who made a bad decision and how that decision affects him and others around him. If you walk in to the theatre expecting a romantic drama, you won’t get that. “The Words” is an emotional story of three men, uniquely directed by Klugman and Sternthal and led wonderfully by Cooper.

Kevin McCarthy of interviewed Bradley Cooper, Ben Barnes and Brian Klugman.

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