Reel Reviews
Movie: "The Words" Leaves Little Impact
September 18, 2012
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

With a tagline like, “There is more than one way to take a life”, "The Words" sets itself up to be a hybrid of mystery and drama with a little bit of thriller thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, it only lives up to two of those descriptions and it does not even live up to them all that well.

 So much can be done with an all-star cast regardless of genre and The Words has quite the impressive bill of actors, but the story itself falls short. Starring The Hangover’s Bradley Cooper, Star Trek’s Zoe Saldana, Oscar winner Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid and "House M.D.’s" Olivia Wilde, the film should have run like a well-oiled machine, but sadly it was clunky and the pacing too slow.            

 The film layers three different stories involving relationships that are all, in some way, intertwined together. Rory Jansen (Cooper), a struggling author, and his new wife Dora (Saldana) decide to take their honeymoon in Paris where they can relax and immerse themselves in the culture of the city and take advantage of vintage shops. While meandering through one such store, Rory discovers a beaten up old briefcase and, believing it will be a nice accessory for him to take to his job at a publishing company, Dora purchases it for him. Once back to the monotony of his life, and during a sleepless night filled with writers block, Rory finds himself searching the pockets of his new briefcase and comes across a typewriter written story in a concealed pocket. He transcribes the story word for word to his laptop and eventually gives it to a publisher at his office. Once the book is published, Rory garners fame, success and wealth beyond his dreams.

On a day off, he meets an old man (Jeremy Irons) who says he is a fan and that he would like to tell Rory a story. The story he tells, about a young soldier during WWII who falls in love with a French girl while stationed in Paris, reveals the old man as the author of the manuscript from the briefcase. Now Rory must face his lie head on and try to regain control of his life as it begins to unravel.                

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Stories following multiple couples, in different time periods, can often become convoluted and feel disjointed and, unfortunately, that is often the case in "The Words." Although each cast member gives a great performance it seems like the material was not developed enough to go beyond being basic and predictable albeit emotional in parts. The cinematography, from the different characters apartments to the streets and shops of Paris to university lecture halls and parks, is beautiful and well put together; the flashback scenes for Irons’ characters story arc are particularly well done. Each setting helps put the audience in the characters shoes and feelings, aiding in that feat sometimes when the script fails to do so. It is a film that attempts to say a lot of things without actually saying them and that does not always work in its favor.  

"The Words" is rated PG-13 for brief strong language and smoking and runs 97 minutes. It is in theaters now.