By Molly Grosskreutz
A&E Assistant Editor
Bradley Cooper. Zoe Saldana. Dennis Quaid. Jeremy Irons. With such a star-studded cast, it’s easy to assume that “The Words” is just another Hollywood movie in which the guy wins the girl and they all live happily ever after. Fear not, for this line-up is sure to astonish an audience within the first few minutes. Riddles, brainteasers and thought-provocation are what make “The Words” an astounding flick.
Directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal use the “story within a story” structure to tell the tale of Rory Jansen (Cooper), a struggling writer, who, at the peak of his frustration, makes an unthinkable decision to plagiarize another man’s unpublished manuscript.
Doing so turns Rory and his wife Dora (Saldana)’s lives into a fairy tale…until a calm and bitter old man approaches Rory in Central Park.
VG: The film takes us back and forth between 1940s Paris and the modern-day United States. The portrayal of Paris stunned me and illustrated the lifestyle of the city in that era very well. The incorporation of the French language sans subtitles caught my attention and opened my mind to the little details of the film.
MG: Aside from film studies, French language and culture—especially pre-1950—is my other academic passion…so this movie was a perfect storm of all my interests conveniently combined into one grand arena. Plus, I am infatuated with the premise of the film, so that helps. It’s all at once romantic and immoral and confusing. Right up my alley.
VG: I was displeased; however, with Daniella (Olivia Wilde) and her tricks to luring in writer Clay Hammond (Quaid). It seemed as though he was letting her in on his secrets solely based on her sex appeal and enticement.
MG: I, too, found Wilde’s character unsympathetic and deceiving. Using her sexuality to manipulate a man is not a new idea. I’m sick of disgustingly beautiful women getting their way all the time.
VG: The anonymity of the Old Man (Irons) Rory encounters keeps the mystery and questions alive throughout the movie. The story that the Old Man conveys to Rory and the audience is mesmerizing.
MG: Aside from the beautiful sepia quality of the Paris scenes, the other extremely strong element of this film is its structure. It feels a bit like “Inception” or “The Truman Show” in its complexity. It’s about time a movie like this effectively plays with non-linear form. It’s just good storytelling.
VG: Despite the setting and theme being very simplistic, I left the cinema with my mind blown. Really. Not once before had I enjoyed a film of this nature, but this film imprinted a revelation in my taste of movies. It made me think and wonder “what if?”.
MG: It’s always refreshing to me when a film takes on an ambitious script and an ambitious concept, even if it falls a little short. I’d take the wordy “Words” over an action flick any day.
MG: Thumbs up.
VG: Thumbs up.